CONSTANT READER ARCHIVES

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

===============   Note     5              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:                ALL                   Date:    07/13
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:21 PM

For CRs who are reading Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG,      
OHIO, I have an old Viking Press Portable Library edition   
which has an excellent forward by Malcolm Cowley.  It's 15  
pages long and, therefore, probably not something I can     
transcribe here, but would be more than willing to send you 
a xeroxed copy by snail mail (sorry, Thom) if you're        
interested.  It's certainly contributed to my understanding 
of what's going on here, how Anderson fits into literary    
history and some interesting things about him as a person.  
  I'm only part-way through the "Godliness" section, but    
found Anderson's description of Jesse Bentley, his father   
and his brothers to be an insightful view of those men      
who seemed to have no choice but to work from dawn to dusk  
in order to make a living from the land and lose themselves 
along the way.  And Jesse letting his delicate wife work    
herself to death rang true as well.            Barbara      
                                (in Michigan...where I felt 
                                 close to heat stroke after 
                                 working in the yard all    
                                 morning...we're into some  
                                 serious summer now....)    


===============   Reply    1 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/22
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     4:03 PM

   I finished WINESBURG, OHIO last night, a little behind   
schedule as usual, and have without much success been       
trying to put my thoughts about it in order. So I'll just   
ramble on a while, detailing my reactions more or less at   
random.                                                     
   I haven't quite been able to categorize the narrative    
form that Anderson is using here. It seems to be closer to  
a novel than a collection of stories; the only thing lack-  
ing to place it firmly in the former is a clear plotline    
that involves all the characters. Both the common frame-    
work of the setting and the character of George Willard,    
whose story is told bit by bit as the book progresses,      
serve to create a cohesive whole instead of a collection    
of parts. So I suspect that those who prefer novels to      
short stories would find W,O a satisfying read.             
   Anderson makes it perfectly clear what he's up to here,  
even speaking in the book's dedication of his "hunger to    
see beneath the surface of lives." This he most ably does,  
with a series of higly distilled portraits of characters    
he calls "grotesques." I must admit that I saw certain      
aspects of myself in a number of them, who are only gro-    
tesque in that they are extreme embodiments of partic-      
ular dimensions of human existence. What struck me as       
most poignant about them is their isolation from one        
another; these people rarely even try to communicate with   
one another, amd when they do, their attempts are halting,  
confused and ultimately unsuccessful.                       
   None of the people in W,O either understand or are       
understood by their neighbors, but there are at least a     
couple of them who nonetheless I don't see as sad figures.  
One is Joe Welling, of "A Man of Ideas," who to some        
extent lives in a world of his own, and is certainly seen   
by the townspeople as quite peculiar -- but there's no      
hint that this bothers him in the least. To me this chapter 
came as a welcome break from the somber tone of those       
preceding. The other exception is Tom Foster of "Drink",    
who has seen more of the evils of life than any of the      
others but remains peculiarly uncorrupted by his exper-     
iences. I found his story one of the most compelling        
vignettes in the series.                                    
    One might describe Anderson's writing as "deceptively   
simple." The way he uses the sparest English to build       
up a vivid picture of the "secret life" of Winesburg        
exemplifies what George Orwell held to be a prime           
requisite of good prose; that it be like "a pane of glass." 
Only afterwards, and after some close study, does one       
realize the way in which he uses simple words in simple     
sentences to construct a complex mirror of reality. To me,  
the outstanding hallmark of genius, of any sort, is to make 
that which is difficult look easy, and Anderson's strik-    
ingly economical prose is an obvious example.               
    I gather from what bit of reading on the subject I've   
done that WINESBURG, OHIO is considered a landmark in       
American literature because of Anderson's writing style and 
subject matter. As such, it made a fine entry on our        
reading list and I'd like to thank Gail Friel for nominating
it. (Where are you, Gail? Come talk to us, please!)         
                                                            
   Next up: BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy               
                                               <<Allen>>    


===============   Reply    2 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     5:53 PM

According to Malcolm Cowley's introduction in my edition,   
he wrote this series of stories fairly quickly, but with a  
delay of some months before the last three stories,         
"Death", "Sophistication" and "Departure" were written,     
"with the obvious intention of rounding out the book."      
  After reading that, I sort of expected those stories to   
be hurriedly tacked on without as much art as the ones      
before.  Instead, I found "Death" remarkably moving and     
probably the one that stays with me most, of all of them.   
And, the two opening paragraphs of "Sophistication"         
describing a small American town when the fair comes to     
town are my favorites in the book:                          
***                                                         
   "It was early evening of a day in the late fall and the  
Winesburg County Fair had brought crowds of country people  
into town.  The day had been clear and the night came on    
warm and pleasant.  On the Trunion Pike, where the road     
after it left town stretched away between berry fields now  
covered with dry brown leaves, the dust from passing wagons 
arose in clouds.  Children, curled into little balls, slept 
on the straw scattered on wagon beds.  Their hair was full  
of dust and their fingers black and sticky.  The dust       
rolled away over the fields and the departing sun set it    
ablaze with colors.                                         
  In the main street of Winesburg, crowds filled the stores 
and the sidewalks.  Night came on, horses whinnied, the     
clerks in the stores ran madly about, children became lost  
and cried lustily, an American town worked terribly at the  
task of amusing itself."                                    
***                                                         
  Maybe it's because I lived that scene in a later time,    
but he paints a picture that I read and reread.             
  Cowley also points out that, in each story, Anderson aims 
for " that single moment of aliveness--that epiphany, as    
Joyce would have called it, that suddenly reached out of    
two characters through walls of inarticulateness and        
misunderstanding...."  You can almost highlight it in each  
one.                                                        
  I would love to know if this is one of the first of the   
groups of short stories which rotate around a single theme  
and characters.  Munro does this with whole books           
sometimes, as in THE BEGGAR MAID, or in just a few of her   
stories within a book.  Cowley points to authors after      
Anderson such as Faulkner's THE UNVANQUISHED and GO DOWN,   
MOSES, Steinbeck's TORTILLA FLAT and THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN 
and Caldwell's GEORGIA BOY.  But, he doesn't specifically   
say that Anderson was the first to do it.  Any thoughts on  
that?                                        Barbara        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     7:12 PM

Conductor: Intriguing idea, I think, that the people in     
WINESBURG, OHIO represent facets of personality that can    
divide and isolate us from one another if taken to extremes.
  It's certainly to the author's credit that they remain    
characters and not caricatures, as they could so easily have
become. I'm sure this is due in no small part, as you say,  
to Anderson's deceptively simple style.                     
  I first discovered his writing when I came across the     
opening story, "Hands," in an anthology many moons ago. It's
probably still my favorite of the lot, and seemingly the    
most anthologized.                                          
  So I'll pose the obvious question: Do you think Wing      
Biddlebaum is homosexual and/or pedophilic, or rather a     
misunderstood person who was exiled from the community      
because his tendency toward physical affection sometimes got
out of hand, so to speak?                                   
  On a similar note, an English prof I know who is somewhat 
of an expert on Walt Whitman maintains that many of the     
supposed homo-erotic aspects of Whitman's writing are       
frequently taken out of context nowadays. Rather, this prof 
says, Whitman was someone who "loved human beings,          
spiritually and indiscriminately, and had a habit of        
speaking injudiciously."                                    
  In any event, no matter how many times I read Anderson's  
"Hands," the beautiful last line always stabs me through the
heart: "...the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through 
decade after decade of his rosary."                         
  So...Where do you think ol' Wing lieth, on this sexual    
continuum?                                                  
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            
  (PS: I seemed to recall that WINESBURG was a favorite book
of Tom Canavan, formerly a frequent voice here, and I sent  
him a notice by land-mail earlier this week about this      
discussion. Hopefully he'll join us at some point, before we
hold onto our hats and take the rollercoaster ride into the 
brilliant nightmare of BLOOD MERIDIAN.)                     
                                                            
                                                            


===============   Reply    4 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/22
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:14 PM

I have read a lot of things that make me think 19th and     
possibly early 20th century writings are sometimes          
misunderstood to be homoerotic when they are not.  The      
biggest recent blowup about this occurred when that writer  
on gays in the military published a book intimating, among  
other things, that Confederate General Pat Cleburne was gay.
 This started a firestorm.  Yes, Cleburne was quite fond of 
a young subordinate and shared his blankets with him, but   
this form of sleeping together was extremely common during  
the war for purely practical reasons.  Also, it's hard to   
imagine anyone, even a popular general, getting by with this
in field conditions.  The men were too much thrown together 
not to notice, and if you think homophobia's bad NOW -      
  The problem also arises in respect to women's writings.   
Many female letters, diaries, etc. contain endearments we   
would now consider wildly lesbian; in fact, such letters    
have caused the suspicion to be leveled against Eleanor     
Roosevelt.  What's actually reflected here is that from the 
early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries the worlds
of the sexes were extremely segregated.  The same phenomenon
appears in the letters of Queen Anne, who seemed to have    
quite a thing for Sarah Churchill.                          
                                   Cathy                    


===============   Reply    5 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Time:     8:51 AM

Dale, I did not think Wing was homosexual at all. In fact,  
I think the story doesn't work if he is. The point of the   
reaction of the townspeople to his manner is that they      
misunderstand it totally. Like most of the characters in    
WINESBURG,(at least those I've encountered, I'm only        
halfway through)Wing is terribly isolated and desperate for 
some means of reaching other human beings. He identifies    
with the boys he cant't resist touching, and the touching   
is a physical manisfestation of his feeling for them. And   
that feeling is for their lives, not their bodies.          
                                                            
Here is a passage which sums up Wing for me:                
   In a way the voice and the hands, the stroking of        
   the shoulders and the touching of the hair were a        
   part of the schoolmaster's effort to carry a dream       
   into the young minds. By the caress that was in his      
   fingers he expressed himself.                            
                                                            
The fury which breaks over Wing is solely the product of    
the narrowness and frustration of the lives of his          
tormentors.                                                 
                                                            
Pontifically from the heights,                              
Felix Miller                                                


===============   Reply    6 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    07/23
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:    11:22 AM

Interesting comments, Cathy. I was reminded of the          
relationship between the fictional characters Sue and       
Augusta in Wallace Stegner's ANGLE OF REPOSE, which if I    
remember correctly you also read recently. Viewed strictly  
from a 20th century perspective , there are strong hints in 
their correspondance of an erotic attraction between the two
women, but I think that it is unfair to superimpose current 
hang-ups on characters from an earlier time, when people of 
the same sex had more leway in expressing love and affection
for each other without anyone assuming they wanted to have a
physical relationship. Of course, as  you so rightly pointed
out, this becomes so much messier when it is applied to real
people. Poor Eleanor Roosevelt  -- to have your private life
and letters dissected so mercilessly, with the conclusion   
reached that you were at least a "latent" homosexual        
-whatever that means. Somehow it seems unfair to pry so much
into the personal and sexual life of the dead.              
                                                            
Ann                                                         


===============   Reply    7 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    12:31 PM

Dale: It seems to me that Wing's sexuality is intentionally 
ambiguous, and that for Anderson's purpose that is precisely
the point. Gay, he's isolated and driven from the community;
warm, sensitive and touchy-feely hetero, he's isolated and  
driven from the community. Neither deviation from the norm  
will be tolerated. I vaguely recall reading that some birds 
-- chickens, perhaps? -- will cull the flock of birds that  
don't match the majority color scheme, with the white birds 
pecking the speckled to death. Poor speckled Wing.          
                                                            
          Dick in Alaska, where he carefully plucks any     
          speckled feathers each morning before dressing    


===============   Reply    8 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Date:    07/23
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:06 PM

I agree with you, Felix, re: Wing.  One of Anderson's       
central themes in Winesburg is the incredible lack of       
understanding that the people of the town have for each     
other.  Wing's somewhat eccentric personality would be      
outside their comprehension anyway, but with the addition   
of his physical nature and one adolescent's imagination, it 
was like walking on the edge of a cliff.                    
  BTW it's interesting, given the questions being debated   
today regarding whether children are capable of lying       
(however unintentionally) about sexual abuse, that this     
story is surprisingly timely.                 Barbara       
  And, didn't you just want to liberate poor Wing from this 
town?                                           Barbara     


===============   Reply    1 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/24
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    10:28 PM

Dear CR Friends,                                            
I agree with all of you about the theme of loneliness in    
WINESBURG, OHIO.  Even George Willard, who is in nearly     
every chapter, seems to hang out on the periphery of life.  
For example, he thinks he might love Helen White and asks   
Seth Richmond to tell her for him instead of doing it him-  
self.  He also yearns for Kate Swift but does not act on    
his feelings.  I have not finished yet, but that is what I  
think up to this point.                                     
                                                            
Has anyone else noticed the stylistic quirk that Anderson   
has of turning the sentence structure around?  He often be- 
gins with a prepositional phrase:                           
        With the traveling men when she walked about with   
        them, and later with Tom Willard, it was quite dif- 
        ferent.                                             
and                                                         
        By the window he sat down to think.                 
                                                            
I, too, love the descriptions in "Hands".  Wing's problem   
with his hands reminds me of life as a public school        
teacher these days.  One hears of teachers being sued be-   
cause they touched a student who did not want to be touched 
A friend of mine who is gay "came out of the closet" (in a  
fit of madness, I think).  He will never be able to touch   
a boy in his classes again.  Middle class high school boys  
are extremely homophobic.                                   
                                                            
Thanks for all of the insight on this fine novel.           
Jane who will soon be back teaching (Aug. 10)!              


===============   Reply    2 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    07/24
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    11:19 PM

Dear Winesburg readers,                                     
I thought I had read Winesburg years ago.  Turns out I was  
mixing it up with Spoon River Anthology.                    
(Now Ill have to go back and read that one again.)  At first
I was put off by the fact that the Anderson                 
does an awful lot of TALKING about how his characters felt, 
rather than SHOWING us how they felt.  I                    
guess thats his left foot, still in the 19th century.  His  
simple, clear non-turgid prose is his right foot in         
the 20th century.   At first, because emotions were         
described more than felt, I had a hard time getting into    
this book.  I actually threw it down a couple of times      
intending to bail out.  However, something kept calling me  
back into the book and I kept picking it up again until I   
finished it.  I think what keeps it contemporary is         
its explication of alienation and loneliness, themes several
of you have noted.  I am reminded of Thoreau's              
observation that The mass of men lead lives of quiet        
desperation.                                                
Ruth                                                        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/25
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     0:54 AM

   On looking at "Hands" again, Dale, I also don't find any 
clue that Wing is homosexual, unconscious or otherwise.     
Not only do I not see it there on the page, but it seems to 
me that if Anderson wanted to give that impression, then    
he'd do so in a way that would leave no doubt in the read-  
er's mind. This author doesn't go hinting around about his  
characters, he tells you about them straight out.           
    There were places that this direct approach becomes     
pretty baldly didactic; I can't find them at the moment,    
but there are a couple of small digressions about the       
effect of industrialism on the country that struck me as    
rather odd to come across in a work of fiction. They may    
serve, though, to heighten the impression that this is a    
*real* place, and real people that Anderson is describing.  
   I must say that I like this book more as I reread        
parts from here and there; the goes-down-easy style lends   
itself to close study far more readily, for my taste, than  
some other books that I'll refrain from mentioning. No      
small achievement, I think, to use common words in simply   
constructed sentences to create a totality that was in a    
number of ways unlike any work that preceded it.            
                                                            
                         Allen                              
                                                            
  Irrelevant personal postscript: I had a unique distract-  
                                                            
ion that prevented me from getting into the flow of the     
book as readily as I otherwise would have -- the name of    
the young reporter, George Willard, is the same as someone  
I once knew who sadly, many years ago, committed suicide.   


===============   Reply    4 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/25
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     5:41 PM

     I just finished WINESBURG and the impression I have of 
it is...wispy.  There seems to be some urgent melancholia   
throughout.  Each character is slightly built; each chapter 
a snapshot.  The mood created by these stories reminded me  
of the kind of adolescent angst I went through as a young   
girl on a farm in North Carolina.  The coming-of-age within 
the stories mirrors the literary coming of age that W,O     
actually turned out to be.  It really is hard to judge this 
work in hindsight.  It would have been nice to read it when 
it was first published and have been amazed at its          
originality.  Of course, we can't do that.  I found myself, 
especially in the beginning, wanting to know more about the 
people.  I'd get interested in them and then the next story 
started and I would have to get acquainted with a whole new 
person.                                                     
     Many of you have talked about HANDS.  I agree that this
story is highly effective and amazingly relevant to our     
time.  Wing Biddlebaum seems to me to be the most fully     
realized character in the book, even more than George (who  
to me seemed like an interesting device to tie all the      
stories together, but I don't feel like I really know him.) 
His "problem" with his hands just goes to show that some    
things never change.  No matter how much we think we are in 
a new and improved world we read something like HANDS and   
realize that many attitudes are the same.                   
                                                            
Sherry                                                      


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/29
From:   FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Time:     3:20 AM

Dale Short                                                  
                                                            
I see Wing Biddelbaum as a tragic character, who doesn't    
know what his leanings really are.  I visuaize him as one   
of those touchy-feelie people, who reward their charges     
with a touch.  As Adolph Myers this is the way he ran his   
classroom empire.  It is only when he turns his head and    
sees the knotted rope of the Pennsylvanians that he begins  
to doubt see his attentions in another light.               
                                                            
He is horrified when he is trying to teach George Willard   
and he reverts to his old ways.  The author uses the word   
caress, incidentally.  Wing is afraid of confronting        
his own inner being, afraid of what he might see.           
Wing does not step into the closet, therefor he can never   
come out of the closet.  No matter what job he has, his     
hands eventually give him away.                             
regards,Edd Houghton, who just saw "Joseph and his          
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and ponders on               
historical veracity of Andrew Lloyd Weber.  Could he help   
Disney with Pocohantas?                                     


===============   Reply    2 of Note    1 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Date:    07/29
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:08 PM

Andrew Lloyd Weber is the musical equivalent of the BRIDGES 
OF MADISON COUNTY guy, whoever that is.  Don't expect much  
of him.                                                     
  Re Wing Biddlebaum, what struck me most on reading the    
story was that none of his accusers explicitly stated what  
they thought he had done or why his actions disturbed them. 
That certainly wouldn't happen today.  As for in or out of  
the closet, I get the opinion that part of the horror is    
that he himself doesn't get it, at least on a conscious     
level.  It's possible to have the tendency, you know,       
without ever realizing precisely what it is, at least it was
in the buttoned up world of the last part of the last       
century and the first part of this one.  All he knows is    
that people think there's something unspeakable about his   
hands and he doesn't feel too comfortable about them        
himself.  He may not have even known precisely how to commit
the act or any other of an intimate nature.  I belive       
several male writers have written tragicomedies about their 
lack of sexual instruction and the difficulties into which  
it led them.                                                
                                  Cathy                     


===============   Note     2              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
===============   Note     5              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:                ALL                   Date:    07/13
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:21 PM

For CRs who are reading Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG,      
OHIO, I have an old Viking Press Portable Library edition   
which has an excellent forward by Malcolm Cowley.  It's 15  
pages long and, therefore, probably not something I can     
transcribe here, but would be more than willing to send you 
a xeroxed copy by snail mail (sorry, Thom) if you're        
interested.  It's certainly contributed to my understanding 
of what's going on here, how Anderson fits into literary    
history and some interesting things about him as a person.  
  I'm only part-way through the "Godliness" section, but    
found Anderson's description of Jesse Bentley, his father   
and his brothers to be an insightful view of those men      
who seemed to have no choice but to work from dawn to dusk  
in order to make a living from the land and lose themselves 
along the way.  And Jesse letting his delicate wife work    
herself to death rang true as well.            Barbara      
                                (in Michigan...where I felt 
                                 close to heat stroke after 
                                 working in the yard all    
                                 morning...we're into some  
                                 serious summer now....)    


===============   Reply    1 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/22
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     4:03 PM

   I finished WINESBURG, OHIO last night, a little behind   
schedule as usual, and have without much success been       
trying to put my thoughts about it in order. So I'll just   
ramble on a while, detailing my reactions more or less at   
random.                                                     
   I haven't quite been able to categorize the narrative    
form that Anderson is using here. It seems to be closer to  
a novel than a collection of stories; the only thing lack-  
ing to place it firmly in the former is a clear plotline    
that involves all the characters. Both the common frame-    
work of the setting and the character of George Willard,    
whose story is told bit by bit as the book progresses,      
serve to create a cohesive whole instead of a collection    
of parts. So I suspect that those who prefer novels to      
short stories would find W,O a satisfying read.             
   Anderson makes it perfectly clear what he's up to here,  
even speaking in the book's dedication of his "hunger to    
see beneath the surface of lives." This he most ably does,  
with a series of higly distilled portraits of characters    
he calls "grotesques." I must admit that I saw certain      
aspects of myself in a number of them, who are only gro-    
tesque in that they are extreme embodiments of partic-      
ular dimensions of human existence. What struck me as       
most poignant about them is their isolation from one        
another; these people rarely even try to communicate with   
one another, amd when they do, their attempts are halting,  
confused and ultimately unsuccessful.                       
   None of the people in W,O either understand or are       
understood by their neighbors, but there are at least a     
couple of them who nonetheless I don't see as sad figures.  
One is Joe Welling, of "A Man of Ideas," who to some        
extent lives in a world of his own, and is certainly seen   
by the townspeople as quite peculiar -- but there's no      
hint that this bothers him in the least. To me this chapter 
came as a welcome break from the somber tone of those       
preceding. The other exception is Tom Foster of "Drink",    
who has seen more of the evils of life than any of the      
others but remains peculiarly uncorrupted by his exper-     
iences. I found his story one of the most compelling        
vignettes in the series.                                    
    One might describe Anderson's writing as "deceptively   
simple." The way he uses the sparest English to build       
up a vivid picture of the "secret life" of Winesburg        
exemplifies what George Orwell held to be a prime           
requisite of good prose; that it be like "a pane of glass." 
Only afterwards, and after some close study, does one       
realize the way in which he uses simple words in simple     
sentences to construct a complex mirror of reality. To me,  
the outstanding hallmark of genius, of any sort, is to make 
that which is difficult look easy, and Anderson's strik-    
ingly economical prose is an obvious example.               
    I gather from what bit of reading on the subject I've   
done that WINESBURG, OHIO is considered a landmark in       
American literature because of Anderson's writing style and 
subject matter. As such, it made a fine entry on our        
reading list and I'd like to thank Gail Friel for nominating
it. (Where are you, Gail? Come talk to us, please!)         
                                                            
   Next up: BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy               
                                               <<Allen>>    


===============   Reply    2 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     5:53 PM

According to Malcolm Cowley's introduction in my edition,   
he wrote this series of stories fairly quickly, but with a  
delay of some months before the last three stories,         
"Death", "Sophistication" and "Departure" were written,     
"with the obvious intention of rounding out the book."      
  After reading that, I sort of expected those stories to   
be hurriedly tacked on without as much art as the ones      
before.  Instead, I found "Death" remarkably moving and     
probably the one that stays with me most, of all of them.   
And, the two opening paragraphs of "Sophistication"         
describing a small American town when the fair comes to     
town are my favorites in the book:                          
***                                                         
   "It was early evening of a day in the late fall and the  
Winesburg County Fair had brought crowds of country people  
into town.  The day had been clear and the night came on    
warm and pleasant.  On the Trunion Pike, where the road     
after it left town stretched away between berry fields now  
covered with dry brown leaves, the dust from passing wagons 
arose in clouds.  Children, curled into little balls, slept 
on the straw scattered on wagon beds.  Their hair was full  
of dust and their fingers black and sticky.  The dust       
rolled away over the fields and the departing sun set it    
ablaze with colors.                                         
  In the main street of Winesburg, crowds filled the stores 
and the sidewalks.  Night came on, horses whinnied, the     
clerks in the stores ran madly about, children became lost  
and cried lustily, an American town worked terribly at the  
task of amusing itself."                                    
***                                                         
  Maybe it's because I lived that scene in a later time,    
but he paints a picture that I read and reread.             
  Cowley also points out that, in each story, Anderson aims 
for " that single moment of aliveness--that epiphany, as    
Joyce would have called it, that suddenly reached out of    
two characters through walls of inarticulateness and        
misunderstanding...."  You can almost highlight it in each  
one.                                                        
  I would love to know if this is one of the first of the   
groups of short stories which rotate around a single theme  
and characters.  Munro does this with whole books           
sometimes, as in THE BEGGAR MAID, or in just a few of her   
stories within a book.  Cowley points to authors after      
Anderson such as Faulkner's THE UNVANQUISHED and GO DOWN,   
MOSES, Steinbeck's TORTILLA FLAT and THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN 
and Caldwell's GEORGIA BOY.  But, he doesn't specifically   
say that Anderson was the first to do it.  Any thoughts on  
that?                                        Barbara        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     7:12 PM

Conductor: Intriguing idea, I think, that the people in     
WINESBURG, OHIO represent facets of personality that can    
divide and isolate us from one another if taken to extremes.
  It's certainly to the author's credit that they remain    
characters and not caricatures, as they could so easily have
become. I'm sure this is due in no small part, as you say,  
to Anderson's deceptively simple style.                     
  I first discovered his writing when I came across the     
opening story, "Hands," in an anthology many moons ago. It's
probably still my favorite of the lot, and seemingly the    
most anthologized.                                          
  So I'll pose the obvious question: Do you think Wing      
Biddlebaum is homosexual and/or pedophilic, or rather a     
misunderstood person who was exiled from the community      
because his tendency toward physical affection sometimes got
out of hand, so to speak?                                   
  On a similar note, an English prof I know who is somewhat 
of an expert on Walt Whitman maintains that many of the     
supposed homo-erotic aspects of Whitman's writing are       
frequently taken out of context nowadays. Rather, this prof 
says, Whitman was someone who "loved human beings,          
spiritually and indiscriminately, and had a habit of        
speaking injudiciously."                                    
  In any event, no matter how many times I read Anderson's  
"Hands," the beautiful last line always stabs me through the
heart: "...the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through 
decade after decade of his rosary."                         
  So...Where do you think ol' Wing lieth, on this sexual    
continuum?                                                  
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            
  (PS: I seemed to recall that WINESBURG was a favorite book
of Tom Canavan, formerly a frequent voice here, and I sent  
him a notice by land-mail earlier this week about this      
discussion. Hopefully he'll join us at some point, before we
hold onto our hats and take the rollercoaster ride into the 
brilliant nightmare of BLOOD MERIDIAN.)                     
                                                            
                                                            


===============   Reply    4 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/22
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:14 PM

I have read a lot of things that make me think 19th and     
possibly early 20th century writings are sometimes          
misunderstood to be homoerotic when they are not.  The      
biggest recent blowup about this occurred when that writer  
on gays in the military published a book intimating, among  
other things, that Confederate General Pat Cleburne was gay.
 This started a firestorm.  Yes, Cleburne was quite fond of 
a young subordinate and shared his blankets with him, but   
this form of sleeping together was extremely common during  
the war for purely practical reasons.  Also, it's hard to   
imagine anyone, even a popular general, getting by with this
in field conditions.  The men were too much thrown together 
not to notice, and if you think homophobia's bad NOW -      
  The problem also arises in respect to women's writings.   
Many female letters, diaries, etc. contain endearments we   
would now consider wildly lesbian; in fact, such letters    
have caused the suspicion to be leveled against Eleanor     
Roosevelt.  What's actually reflected here is that from the 
early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries the worlds
of the sexes were extremely segregated.  The same phenomenon
appears in the letters of Queen Anne, who seemed to have    
quite a thing for Sarah Churchill.                          
                                   Cathy                    


===============   Reply    5 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Time:     8:51 AM

Dale, I did not think Wing was homosexual at all. In fact,  
I think the story doesn't work if he is. The point of the   
reaction of the townspeople to his manner is that they      
misunderstand it totally. Like most of the characters in    
WINESBURG,(at least those I've encountered, I'm only        
halfway through)Wing is terribly isolated and desperate for 
some means of reaching other human beings. He identifies    
with the boys he cant't resist touching, and the touching   
is a physical manisfestation of his feeling for them. And   
that feeling is for their lives, not their bodies.          
                                                            
Here is a passage which sums up Wing for me:                
   In a way the voice and the hands, the stroking of        
   the shoulders and the touching of the hair were a        
   part of the schoolmaster's effort to carry a dream       
   into the young minds. By the caress that was in his      
   fingers he expressed himself.                            
                                                            
The fury which breaks over Wing is solely the product of    
the narrowness and frustration of the lives of his          
tormentors.                                                 
                                                            
Pontifically from the heights,                              
Felix Miller                                                


===============   Reply    6 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    07/23
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:    11:22 AM

Interesting comments, Cathy. I was reminded of the          
relationship between the fictional characters Sue and       
Augusta in Wallace Stegner's ANGLE OF REPOSE, which if I    
remember correctly you also read recently. Viewed strictly  
from a 20th century perspective , there are strong hints in 
their correspondance of an erotic attraction between the two
women, but I think that it is unfair to superimpose current 
hang-ups on characters from an earlier time, when people of 
the same sex had more leway in expressing love and affection
for each other without anyone assuming they wanted to have a
physical relationship. Of course, as  you so rightly pointed
out, this becomes so much messier when it is applied to real
people. Poor Eleanor Roosevelt  -- to have your private life
and letters dissected so mercilessly, with the conclusion   
reached that you were at least a "latent" homosexual        
-whatever that means. Somehow it seems unfair to pry so much
into the personal and sexual life of the dead.              
                                                            
Ann                                                         


===============   Reply    7 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    12:31 PM

Dale: It seems to me that Wing's sexuality is intentionally 
ambiguous, and that for Anderson's purpose that is precisely
the point. Gay, he's isolated and driven from the community;
warm, sensitive and touchy-feely hetero, he's isolated and  
driven from the community. Neither deviation from the norm  
will be tolerated. I vaguely recall reading that some birds 
-- chickens, perhaps? -- will cull the flock of birds that  
don't match the majority color scheme, with the white birds 
pecking the speckled to death. Poor speckled Wing.          
                                                            
          Dick in Alaska, where he carefully plucks any     
          speckled feathers each morning before dressing    


===============   Reply    8 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Date:    07/23
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:06 PM

I agree with you, Felix, re: Wing.  One of Anderson's       
central themes in Winesburg is the incredible lack of       
understanding that the people of the town have for each     
other.  Wing's somewhat eccentric personality would be      
outside their comprehension anyway, but with the addition   
of his physical nature and one adolescent's imagination, it 
was like walking on the edge of a cliff.                    
  BTW it's interesting, given the questions being debated   
today regarding whether children are capable of lying       
(however unintentionally) about sexual abuse, that this     
story is surprisingly timely.                 Barbara       
  And, didn't you just want to liberate poor Wing from this 
town?                                           Barbara     


===============   Reply    1 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/24
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    10:28 PM

Dear CR Friends,                                            
I agree with all of you about the theme of loneliness in    
WINESBURG, OHIO.  Even George Willard, who is in nearly     
every chapter, seems to hang out on the periphery of life.  
For example, he thinks he might love Helen White and asks   
Seth Richmond to tell her for him instead of doing it him-  
self.  He also yearns for Kate Swift but does not act on    
his feelings.  I have not finished yet, but that is what I  
think up to this point.                                     
                                                            
Has anyone else noticed the stylistic quirk that Anderson   
has of turning the sentence structure around?  He often be- 
gins with a prepositional phrase:                           
        With the traveling men when she walked about with   
        them, and later with Tom Willard, it was quite dif- 
        ferent.                                             
and                                                         
        By the window he sat down to think.                 
                                                            
I, too, love the descriptions in "Hands".  Wing's problem   
with his hands reminds me of life as a public school        
teacher these days.  One hears of teachers being sued be-   
cause they touched a student who did not want to be touched 
A friend of mine who is gay "came out of the closet" (in a  
fit of madness, I think).  He will never be able to touch   
a boy in his classes again.  Middle class high school boys  
are extremely homophobic.                                   
                                                            
Thanks for all of the insight on this fine novel.           
Jane who will soon be back teaching (Aug. 10)!              


===============   Reply    2 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    07/24
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    11:19 PM

Dear Winesburg readers,                                     
I thought I had read Winesburg years ago.  Turns out I was  
mixing it up with Spoon River Anthology.                    
(Now Ill have to go back and read that one again.)  At first
I was put off by the fact that the Anderson                 
does an awful lot of TALKING about how his characters felt, 
rather than SHOWING us how they felt.  I                    
guess thats his left foot, still in the 19th century.  His  
simple, clear non-turgid prose is his right foot in         
the 20th century.   At first, because emotions were         
described more than felt, I had a hard time getting into    
this book.  I actually threw it down a couple of times      
intending to bail out.  However, something kept calling me  
back into the book and I kept picking it up again until I   
finished it.  I think what keeps it contemporary is         
its explication of alienation and loneliness, themes several
of you have noted.  I am reminded of Thoreau's              
observation that The mass of men lead lives of quiet        
desperation.                                                
Ruth                                                        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/25
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     0:54 AM

   On looking at "Hands" again, Dale, I also don't find any 
clue that Wing is homosexual, unconscious or otherwise.     
Not only do I not see it there on the page, but it seems to 
me that if Anderson wanted to give that impression, then    
he'd do so in a way that would leave no doubt in the read-  
er's mind. This author doesn't go hinting around about his  
characters, he tells you about them straight out.           
    There were places that this direct approach becomes     
pretty baldly didactic; I can't find them at the moment,    
but there are a couple of small digressions about the       
effect of industrialism on the country that struck me as    
rather odd to come across in a work of fiction. They may    
serve, though, to heighten the impression that this is a    
*real* place, and real people that Anderson is describing.  
   I must say that I like this book more as I reread        
parts from here and there; the goes-down-easy style lends   
itself to close study far more readily, for my taste, than  
some other books that I'll refrain from mentioning. No      
small achievement, I think, to use common words in simply   
constructed sentences to create a totality that was in a    
number of ways unlike any work that preceded it.            
                                                            
                         Allen                              
                                                            
  Irrelevant personal postscript: I had a unique distract-  
                                                            
ion that prevented me from getting into the flow of the     
book as readily as I otherwise would have -- the name of    
the young reporter, George Willard, is the same as someone  
I once knew who sadly, many years ago, committed suicide.   


===============   Reply    4 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/25
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     5:41 PM

     I just finished WINESBURG and the impression I have of 
it is...wispy.  There seems to be some urgent melancholia   
throughout.  Each character is slightly built; each chapter 
a snapshot.  The mood created by these stories reminded me  
of the kind of adolescent angst I went through as a young   
girl on a farm in North Carolina.  The coming-of-age within 
the stories mirrors the literary coming of age that W,O     
actually turned out to be.  It really is hard to judge this 
work in hindsight.  It would have been nice to read it when 
it was first published and have been amazed at its          
originality.  Of course, we can't do that.  I found myself, 
especially in the beginning, wanting to know more about the 
people.  I'd get interested in them and then the next story 
started and I would have to get acquainted with a whole new 
person.                                                     
     Many of you have talked about HANDS.  I agree that this
story is highly effective and amazingly relevant to our     
time.  Wing Biddlebaum seems to me to be the most fully     
realized character in the book, even more than George (who  
to me seemed like an interesting device to tie all the      
stories together, but I don't feel like I really know him.) 
His "problem" with his hands just goes to show that some    
things never change.  No matter how much we think we are in 
a new and improved world we read something like HANDS and   
realize that many attitudes are the same.                   
                                                            
Sherry                                                      


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/29
From:   FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Time:     3:20 AM

Dale Short                                                  
                                                            
I see Wing Biddelbaum as a tragic character, who doesn't    
know what his leanings really are.  I visuaize him as one   
of those touchy-feelie people, who reward their charges     
with a touch.  As Adolph Myers this is the way he ran his   
classroom empire.  It is only when he turns his head and    
sees the knotted rope of the Pennsylvanians that he begins  
to doubt see his attentions in another light.               
                                                            
He is horrified when he is trying to teach George Willard   
and he reverts to his old ways.  The author uses the word   
caress, incidentally.  Wing is afraid of confronting        
his own inner being, afraid of what he might see.           
Wing does not step into the closet, therefor he can never   
come out of the closet.  No matter what job he has, his     
hands eventually give him away.                             
regards,Edd Houghton, who just saw "Joseph and his          
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and ponders on               
historical veracity of Andrew Lloyd Weber.  Could he help   
Disney with Pocohantas?                                     


===============   Reply    2 of Note    1 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Date:    07/29
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:08 PM

Andrew Lloyd Weber is the musical equivalent of the BRIDGES 
OF MADISON COUNTY guy, whoever that is.  Don't expect much  
of him.                                                     
  Re Wing Biddlebaum, what struck me most on reading the    
story was that none of his accusers explicitly stated what  
they thought he had done or why his actions disturbed them. 
That certainly wouldn't happen today.  As for in or out of  
the closet, I get the opinion that part of the horror is    
that he himself doesn't get it, at least on a conscious     
level.  It's possible to have the tendency, you know,       
without ever realizing precisely what it is, at least it was
in the buttoned up world of the last part of the last       
century and the first part of this one.  All he knows is    
that people think there's something unspeakable about his   
hands and he doesn't feel too comfortable about them        
himself.  He may not have even known precisely how to commit
the act or any other of an intimate nature.  I belive       
several male writers have written tragicomedies about their 
lack of sexual instruction and the difficulties into which  
it led them.                                                
                                  Cathy                     


===============   Note     2              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:                ALL                   Date:    07/13

From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:21 PM


For CRs who are reading Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG,      

OHIO, I have an old Viking Press Portable Library edition   

which has an excellent forward by Malcolm Cowley.  It's 15  

pages long and, therefore, probably not something I can     

transcribe here, but would be more than willing to send you 

a xeroxed copy by snail mail (sorry, Thom) if you're        

interested.  It's certainly contributed to my understanding 

of what's going on here, how Anderson fits into literary    

history and some interesting things about him as a person.  

  I'm only part-way through the "Godliness" section, but    

found Anderson's description of Jesse Bentley, his father   

and his brothers to be an insightful view of those men      

who seemed to have no choice but to work from dawn to dusk  

in order to make a living from the land and lose themselves 

along the way.  And Jesse letting his delicate wife work    

herself to death rang true as well.            Barbara      

                                (in Michigan...where I felt 

                                 close to heat stroke after 

                                 working in the yard all    

                                 morning...we're into some  

                                 serious summer now....)    



===============   Reply    1 of Note    5 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/22

From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     4:03 PM


   I finished WINESBURG, OHIO last night, a little behind   

schedule as usual, and have without much success been       

trying to put my thoughts about it in order. So I'll just   

ramble on a while, detailing my reactions more or less at   

random.                                                     

   I haven't quite been able to categorize the narrative    

form that Anderson is using here. It seems to be closer to  

a novel than a collection of stories; the only thing lack-  

ing to place it firmly in the former is a clear plotline    

that involves all the characters. Both the common frame-    

work of the setting and the character of George Willard,    

whose story is told bit by bit as the book progresses,      

serve to create a cohesive whole instead of a collection    

of parts. So I suspect that those who prefer novels to      

short stories would find W,O a satisfying read.             

   Anderson makes it perfectly clear what he's up to here,  

even speaking in the book's dedication of his "hunger to    

see beneath the surface of lives." This he most ably does,  

with a series of higly distilled portraits of characters    

he calls "grotesques." I must admit that I saw certain      

aspects of myself in a number of them, who are only gro-    

tesque in that they are extreme embodiments of partic-      

ular dimensions of human existence. What struck me as       

most poignant about them is their isolation from one        

another; these people rarely even try to communicate with   

one another, amd when they do, their attempts are halting,  

confused and ultimately unsuccessful.                       

   None of the people in W,O either understand or are       

understood by their neighbors, but there are at least a     

couple of them who nonetheless I don't see as sad figures.  

One is Joe Welling, of "A Man of Ideas," who to some        

extent lives in a world of his own, and is certainly seen   

by the townspeople as quite peculiar -- but there's no      

hint that this bothers him in the least. To me this chapter 

came as a welcome break from the somber tone of those       

preceding. The other exception is Tom Foster of "Drink",    

who has seen more of the evils of life than any of the      

others but remains peculiarly uncorrupted by his exper-     

iences. I found his story one of the most compelling        

vignettes in the series.                                    

    One might describe Anderson's writing as "deceptively   

simple." The way he uses the sparest English to build       

up a vivid picture of the "secret life" of Winesburg        

exemplifies what George Orwell held to be a prime           

requisite of good prose; that it be like "a pane of glass." 

Only afterwards, and after some close study, does one       

realize the way in which he uses simple words in simple     

sentences to construct a complex mirror of reality. To me,  

the outstanding hallmark of genius, of any sort, is to make 

that which is difficult look easy, and Anderson's strik-    

ingly economical prose is an obvious example.               

    I gather from what bit of reading on the subject I've   

done that WINESBURG, OHIO is considered a landmark in       

American literature because of Anderson's writing style and 

subject matter. As such, it made a fine entry on our        

reading list and I'd like to thank Gail Friel for nominating

it. (Where are you, Gail? Come talk to us, please!)         

                                                            

   Next up: BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy               

                                               <<Allen>>    



===============   Reply    2 of Note    5 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22

From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     5:53 PM


According to Malcolm Cowley's introduction in my edition,   

he wrote this series of stories fairly quickly, but with a  

delay of some months before the last three stories,         

"Death", "Sophistication" and "Departure" were written,     

"with the obvious intention of rounding out the book."      

  After reading that, I sort of expected those stories to   

be hurriedly tacked on without as much art as the ones      

before.  Instead, I found "Death" remarkably moving and     

probably the one that stays with me most, of all of them.   

And, the two opening paragraphs of "Sophistication"         

describing a small American town when the fair comes to     

town are my favorites in the book:                          

***                                                         

   "It was early evening of a day in the late fall and the  

Winesburg County Fair had brought crowds of country people  

into town.  The day had been clear and the night came on    

warm and pleasant.  On the Trunion Pike, where the road     

after it left town stretched away between berry fields now  

covered with dry brown leaves, the dust from passing wagons 

arose in clouds.  Children, curled into little balls, slept 

on the straw scattered on wagon beds.  Their hair was full  

of dust and their fingers black and sticky.  The dust       

rolled away over the fields and the departing sun set it    

ablaze with colors.                                         

  In the main street of Winesburg, crowds filled the stores 

and the sidewalks.  Night came on, horses whinnied, the     

clerks in the stores ran madly about, children became lost  

and cried lustily, an American town worked terribly at the  

task of amusing itself."                                    

***                                                         

  Maybe it's because I lived that scene in a later time,    

but he paints a picture that I read and reread.             

  Cowley also points out that, in each story, Anderson aims 

for " that single moment of aliveness--that epiphany, as    

Joyce would have called it, that suddenly reached out of    

two characters through walls of inarticulateness and        

misunderstanding...."  You can almost highlight it in each  

one.                                                        

  I would love to know if this is one of the first of the   

groups of short stories which rotate around a single theme  

and characters.  Munro does this with whole books           

sometimes, as in THE BEGGAR MAID, or in just a few of her   

stories within a book.  Cowley points to authors after      

Anderson such as Faulkner's THE UNVANQUISHED and GO DOWN,   

MOSES, Steinbeck's TORTILLA FLAT and THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN 

and Caldwell's GEORGIA BOY.  But, he doesn't specifically   

say that Anderson was the first to do it.  Any thoughts on  

that?                                        Barbara        



===============   Reply    3 of Note    5 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22

From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     7:12 PM


Conductor: Intriguing idea, I think, that the people in     

WINESBURG, OHIO represent facets of personality that can    

divide and isolate us from one another if taken to extremes.

  It's certainly to the author's credit that they remain    

characters and not caricatures, as they could so easily have

become. I'm sure this is due in no small part, as you say,  

to Anderson's deceptively simple style.                     

  I first discovered his writing when I came across the     

opening story, "Hands," in an anthology many moons ago. It's

probably still my favorite of the lot, and seemingly the    

most anthologized.                                          

  So I'll pose the obvious question: Do you think Wing      

Biddlebaum is homosexual and/or pedophilic, or rather a     

misunderstood person who was exiled from the community      

because his tendency toward physical affection sometimes got

out of hand, so to speak?                                   

  On a similar note, an English prof I know who is somewhat 

of an expert on Walt Whitman maintains that many of the     

supposed homo-erotic aspects of Whitman's writing are       

frequently taken out of context nowadays. Rather, this prof 

says, Whitman was someone who "loved human beings,          

spiritually and indiscriminately, and had a habit of        

speaking injudiciously."                                    

  In any event, no matter how many times I read Anderson's  

"Hands," the beautiful last line always stabs me through the

heart: "...the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through 

decade after decade of his rosary."                         

  So...Where do you think ol' Wing lieth, on this sexual    

continuum?                                                  

  >>Dale in Ala.                                            

  (PS: I seemed to recall that WINESBURG was a favorite book

of Tom Canavan, formerly a frequent voice here, and I sent  

him a notice by land-mail earlier this week about this      

discussion. Hopefully he'll join us at some point, before we

hold onto our hats and take the rollercoaster ride into the 

brilliant nightmare of BLOOD MERIDIAN.)                     

                                                            

                                                            



===============   Reply    4 of Note    5 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/22

From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:14 PM


I have read a lot of things that make me think 19th and     

possibly early 20th century writings are sometimes          

misunderstood to be homoerotic when they are not.  The      

biggest recent blowup about this occurred when that writer  

on gays in the military published a book intimating, among  

other things, that Confederate General Pat Cleburne was gay.

 This started a firestorm.  Yes, Cleburne was quite fond of 

a young subordinate and shared his blankets with him, but   

this form of sleeping together was extremely common during  

the war for purely practical reasons.  Also, it's hard to   

imagine anyone, even a popular general, getting by with this

in field conditions.  The men were too much thrown together 

not to notice, and if you think homophobia's bad NOW -      

  The problem also arises in respect to women's writings.   

Many female letters, diaries, etc. contain endearments we   

would now consider wildly lesbian; in fact, such letters    

have caused the suspicion to be leveled against Eleanor     

Roosevelt.  What's actually reflected here is that from the 

early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries the worlds

of the sexes were extremely segregated.  The same phenomenon

appears in the letters of Queen Anne, who seemed to have    

quite a thing for Sarah Churchill.                          

                                   Cathy                    



===============   Reply    5 of Note    5 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23

From:   VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Time:     8:51 AM


Dale, I did not think Wing was homosexual at all. In fact,  

I think the story doesn't work if he is. The point of the   

reaction of the townspeople to his manner is that they      

misunderstand it totally. Like most of the characters in    

WINESBURG,(at least those I've encountered, I'm only        

halfway through)Wing is terribly isolated and desperate for 

some means of reaching other human beings. He identifies    

with the boys he cant't resist touching, and the touching   

is a physical manisfestation of his feeling for them. And   

that feeling is for their lives, not their bodies.          

                                                            

Here is a passage which sums up Wing for me:                

   In a way the voice and the hands, the stroking of        

   the shoulders and the touching of the hair were a        

   part of the schoolmaster's effort to carry a dream       

   into the young minds. By the caress that was in his      

   fingers he expressed himself.                            

                                                            

The fury which breaks over Wing is solely the product of    

the narrowness and frustration of the lives of his          

tormentors.                                                 

                                                            

Pontifically from the heights,                              

Felix Miller                                                



===============   Reply    6 of Note    5 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    07/23

From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:    11:22 AM


Interesting comments, Cathy. I was reminded of the          

relationship between the fictional characters Sue and       

Augusta in Wallace Stegner's ANGLE OF REPOSE, which if I    

remember correctly you also read recently. Viewed strictly  

from a 20th century perspective , there are strong hints in 

their correspondance of an erotic attraction between the two

women, but I think that it is unfair to superimpose current 

hang-ups on characters from an earlier time, when people of 

the same sex had more leway in expressing love and affection

for each other without anyone assuming they wanted to have a

physical relationship. Of course, as  you so rightly pointed

out, this becomes so much messier when it is applied to real

people. Poor Eleanor Roosevelt  -- to have your private life

and letters dissected so mercilessly, with the conclusion   

reached that you were at least a "latent" homosexual        

-whatever that means. Somehow it seems unfair to pry so much

into the personal and sexual life of the dead.              

                                                            

Ann                                                         



===============   Reply    7 of Note    5 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23

From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    12:31 PM


Dale: It seems to me that Wing's sexuality is intentionally 

ambiguous, and that for Anderson's purpose that is precisely

the point. Gay, he's isolated and driven from the community;

warm, sensitive and touchy-feely hetero, he's isolated and  

driven from the community. Neither deviation from the norm  

will be tolerated. I vaguely recall reading that some birds 

-- chickens, perhaps? -- will cull the flock of birds that  

don't match the majority color scheme, with the white birds 

pecking the speckled to death. Poor speckled Wing.          

                                                            

          Dick in Alaska, where he carefully plucks any     

          speckled feathers each morning before dressing    



===============   Reply    8 of Note    5 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Date:    07/23

From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:06 PM


I agree with you, Felix, re: Wing.  One of Anderson's       

central themes in Winesburg is the incredible lack of       

understanding that the people of the town have for each     

other.  Wing's somewhat eccentric personality would be      

outside their comprehension anyway, but with the addition   

of his physical nature and one adolescent's imagination, it 

was like walking on the edge of a cliff.                    

  BTW it's interesting, given the questions being debated   

today regarding whether children are capable of lying       

(however unintentionally) about sexual abuse, that this     

story is surprisingly timely.                 Barbara       

  And, didn't you just want to liberate poor Wing from this 

town?                                           Barbara     



===============   Reply    1 of Note    2 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/24

From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    10:28 PM


Dear CR Friends,                                            

I agree with all of you about the theme of loneliness in    

WINESBURG, OHIO.  Even George Willard, who is in nearly     

every chapter, seems to hang out on the periphery of life.  

For example, he thinks he might love Helen White and asks   

Seth Richmond to tell her for him instead of doing it him-  

self.  He also yearns for Kate Swift but does not act on    

his feelings.  I have not finished yet, but that is what I  

think up to this point.                                     

                                                            

Has anyone else noticed the stylistic quirk that Anderson   

has of turning the sentence structure around?  He often be- 

gins with a prepositional phrase:                           

        With the traveling men when she walked about with   

        them, and later with Tom Willard, it was quite dif- 

        ferent.                                             

and                                                         

        By the window he sat down to think.                 

                                                            

I, too, love the descriptions in "Hands".  Wing's problem   

with his hands reminds me of life as a public school        

teacher these days.  One hears of teachers being sued be-   

cause they touched a student who did not want to be touched 

A friend of mine who is gay "came out of the closet" (in a  

fit of madness, I think).  He will never be able to touch   

a boy in his classes again.  Middle class high school boys  

are extremely homophobic.                                   

                                                            

Thanks for all of the insight on this fine novel.           

Jane who will soon be back teaching (Aug. 10)!              



===============   Reply    2 of Note    2 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    07/24

From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    11:19 PM


Dear Winesburg readers,                                     

I thought I had read Winesburg years ago.  Turns out I was  

mixing it up with Spoon River Anthology.                    

(Now Ill have to go back and read that one again.)  At first

I was put off by the fact that the Anderson                 

does an awful lot of TALKING about how his characters felt, 

rather than SHOWING us how they felt.  I                    

guess thats his left foot, still in the 19th century.  His  

simple, clear non-turgid prose is his right foot in         

the 20th century.   At first, because emotions were         

described more than felt, I had a hard time getting into    

this book.  I actually threw it down a couple of times      

intending to bail out.  However, something kept calling me  

back into the book and I kept picking it up again until I   

finished it.  I think what keeps it contemporary is         

its explication of alienation and loneliness, themes several

of you have noted.  I am reminded of Thoreau's              

observation that The mass of men lead lives of quiet        

desperation.                                                

Ruth                                                        



===============   Reply    3 of Note    2 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/25

From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     0:54 AM


   On looking at "Hands" again, Dale, I also don't find any 

clue that Wing is homosexual, unconscious or otherwise.     

Not only do I not see it there on the page, but it seems to 

me that if Anderson wanted to give that impression, then    

he'd do so in a way that would leave no doubt in the read-  

er's mind. This author doesn't go hinting around about his  

characters, he tells you about them straight out.           

    There were places that this direct approach becomes     

pretty baldly didactic; I can't find them at the moment,    

but there are a couple of small digressions about the       

effect of industrialism on the country that struck me as    

rather odd to come across in a work of fiction. They may    

serve, though, to heighten the impression that this is a    

*real* place, and real people that Anderson is describing.  

   I must say that I like this book more as I reread        

parts from here and there; the goes-down-easy style lends   

itself to close study far more readily, for my taste, than  

some other books that I'll refrain from mentioning. No      

small achievement, I think, to use common words in simply   

constructed sentences to create a totality that was in a    

number of ways unlike any work that preceded it.            

                                                            

                         Allen                              

                                                            

  Irrelevant personal postscript: I had a unique distract-  

                                                            

ion that prevented me from getting into the flow of the     

book as readily as I otherwise would have -- the name of    

the young reporter, George Willard, is the same as someone  

I once knew who sadly, many years ago, committed suicide.   



===============   Reply    4 of Note    2 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/25

From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     5:41 PM


     I just finished WINESBURG and the impression I have of 

it is...wispy.  There seems to be some urgent melancholia   

throughout.  Each character is slightly built; each chapter 

a snapshot.  The mood created by these stories reminded me  

of the kind of adolescent angst I went through as a young   

girl on a farm in North Carolina.  The coming-of-age within 

the stories mirrors the literary coming of age that W,O     

actually turned out to be.  It really is hard to judge this 

work in hindsight.  It would have been nice to read it when 

it was first published and have been amazed at its          

originality.  Of course, we can't do that.  I found myself, 

especially in the beginning, wanting to know more about the 

people.  I'd get interested in them and then the next story 

started and I would have to get acquainted with a whole new 

person.                                                     

     Many of you have talked about HANDS.  I agree that this

story is highly effective and amazingly relevant to our     

time.  Wing Biddlebaum seems to me to be the most fully     

realized character in the book, even more than George (who  

to me seemed like an interesting device to tie all the      

stories together, but I don't feel like I really know him.) 

His "problem" with his hands just goes to show that some    

things never change.  No matter how much we think we are in 

a new and improved world we read something like HANDS and   

realize that many attitudes are the same.                   

                                                            

Sherry                                                      



Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/29

From:   FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Time:     3:20 AM


Dale Short                                                  

                                                            

I see Wing Biddelbaum as a tragic character, who doesn't    

know what his leanings really are.  I visuaize him as one   

of those touchy-feelie people, who reward their charges     

with a touch.  As Adolph Myers this is the way he ran his   

classroom empire.  It is only when he turns his head and    

sees the knotted rope of the Pennsylvanians that he begins  

to doubt see his attentions in another light.               

                                                            

He is horrified when he is trying to teach George Willard   

and he reverts to his old ways.  The author uses the word   

caress, incidentally.  Wing is afraid of confronting        

his own inner being, afraid of what he might see.           

Wing does not step into the closet, therefor he can never   

come out of the closet.  No matter what job he has, his     

hands eventually give him away.                             

regards,Edd Houghton, who just saw "Joseph and his          

Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and ponders on               

historical veracity of Andrew Lloyd Weber.  Could he help   

Disney with Pocohantas?                                     



===============   Reply    2 of Note    1 =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       

Subject:    CONSTANT READER     


To:     FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Date:    07/29

From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:08 PM


Andrew Lloyd Weber is the musical equivalent of the BRIDGES 

OF MADISON COUNTY guy, whoever that is.  Don't expect much  

of him.                                                     

  Re Wing Biddlebaum, what struck me most on reading the    

story was that none of his accusers explicitly stated what  

they thought he had done or why his actions disturbed them. 

That certainly wouldn't happen today.  As for in or out of  

the closet, I get the opinion that part of the horror is    

that he himself doesn't get it, at least on a conscious     

level.  It's possible to have the tendency, you know,       

without ever realizing precisely what it is, at least it was

in the buttoned up world of the last part of the last       

century and the first part of this one.  All he knows is    

that people think there's something unspeakable about his   

hands and he doesn't feel too comfortable about them        

himself.  He may not have even known precisely how to commit

the act or any other of an intimate nature.  I belive       

several male writers have written tragicomedies about their 

lack of sexual instruction and the difficulties into which  

it led them.                                                

                                  Cathy                     



===============   Note     2              =================


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   



===============   Note     5              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:                ALL                   Date:    07/13
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:21 PM

For CRs who are reading Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG,      
OHIO, I have an old Viking Press Portable Library edition   
which has an excellent forward by Malcolm Cowley.  It's 15  
pages long and, therefore, probably not something I can     
transcribe here, but would be more than willing to send you 
a xeroxed copy by snail mail (sorry, Thom) if you're        
interested.  It's certainly contributed to my understanding 
of what's going on here, how Anderson fits into literary    
history and some interesting things about him as a person.  
  I'm only part-way through the "Godliness" section, but    
found Anderson's description of Jesse Bentley, his father   
and his brothers to be an insightful view of those men      
who seemed to have no choice but to work from dawn to dusk  
in order to make a living from the land and lose themselves 
along the way.  And Jesse letting his delicate wife work    
herself to death rang true as well.            Barbara      
                                (in Michigan...where I felt 
                                 close to heat stroke after 
                                 working in the yard all    
                                 morning...we're into some  
                                 serious summer now....)    


===============   Reply    1 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/22
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     4:03 PM

   I finished WINESBURG, OHIO last night, a little behind   
schedule as usual, and have without much success been       
trying to put my thoughts about it in order. So I'll just   
ramble on a while, detailing my reactions more or less at   
random.                                                     
   I haven't quite been able to categorize the narrative    
form that Anderson is using here. It seems to be closer to  
a novel than a collection of stories; the only thing lack-  
ing to place it firmly in the former is a clear plotline    
that involves all the characters. Both the common frame-    
work of the setting and the character of George Willard,    
whose story is told bit by bit as the book progresses,      
serve to create a cohesive whole instead of a collection    
of parts. So I suspect that those who prefer novels to      
short stories would find W,O a satisfying read.             
   Anderson makes it perfectly clear what he's up to here,  
even speaking in the book's dedication of his "hunger to    
see beneath the surface of lives." This he most ably does,  
with a series of higly distilled portraits of characters    
he calls "grotesques." I must admit that I saw certain      
aspects of myself in a number of them, who are only gro-    
tesque in that they are extreme embodiments of partic-      
ular dimensions of human existence. What struck me as       
most poignant about them is their isolation from one        
another; these people rarely even try to communicate with   
one another, amd when they do, their attempts are halting,  
confused and ultimately unsuccessful.                       
   None of the people in W,O either understand or are       
understood by their neighbors, but there are at least a     
couple of them who nonetheless I don't see as sad figures.  
One is Joe Welling, of "A Man of Ideas," who to some        
extent lives in a world of his own, and is certainly seen   
by the townspeople as quite peculiar -- but there's no      
hint that this bothers him in the least. To me this chapter 
came as a welcome break from the somber tone of those       
preceding. The other exception is Tom Foster of "Drink",    
who has seen more of the evils of life than any of the      
others but remains peculiarly uncorrupted by his exper-     
iences. I found his story one of the most compelling        
vignettes in the series.                                    
    One might describe Anderson's writing as "deceptively   
simple." The way he uses the sparest English to build       
up a vivid picture of the "secret life" of Winesburg        
exemplifies what George Orwell held to be a prime           
requisite of good prose; that it be like "a pane of glass." 
Only afterwards, and after some close study, does one       
realize the way in which he uses simple words in simple     
sentences to construct a complex mirror of reality. To me,  
the outstanding hallmark of genius, of any sort, is to make 
that which is difficult look easy, and Anderson's strik-    
ingly economical prose is an obvious example.               
    I gather from what bit of reading on the subject I've   
done that WINESBURG, OHIO is considered a landmark in       
American literature because of Anderson's writing style and 
subject matter. As such, it made a fine entry on our        
reading list and I'd like to thank Gail Friel for nominating
it. (Where are you, Gail? Come talk to us, please!)         
                                                            
   Next up: BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy               
                                               <<Allen>>    


===============   Reply    2 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     5:53 PM

According to Malcolm Cowley's introduction in my edition,   
he wrote this series of stories fairly quickly, but with a  
delay of some months before the last three stories,         
"Death", "Sophistication" and "Departure" were written,     
"with the obvious intention of rounding out the book."      
  After reading that, I sort of expected those stories to   
be hurriedly tacked on without as much art as the ones      
before.  Instead, I found "Death" remarkably moving and     
probably the one that stays with me most, of all of them.   
And, the two opening paragraphs of "Sophistication"         
describing a small American town when the fair comes to     
town are my favorites in the book:                          
***                                                         
   "It was early evening of a day in the late fall and the  
Winesburg County Fair had brought crowds of country people  
into town.  The day had been clear and the night came on    
warm and pleasant.  On the Trunion Pike, where the road     
after it left town stretched away between berry fields now  
covered with dry brown leaves, the dust from passing wagons 
arose in clouds.  Children, curled into little balls, slept 
on the straw scattered on wagon beds.  Their hair was full  
of dust and their fingers black and sticky.  The dust       
rolled away over the fields and the departing sun set it    
ablaze with colors.                                         
  In the main street of Winesburg, crowds filled the stores 
and the sidewalks.  Night came on, horses whinnied, the     
clerks in the stores ran madly about, children became lost  
and cried lustily, an American town worked terribly at the  
task of amusing itself."                                    
***                                                         
  Maybe it's because I lived that scene in a later time,    
but he paints a picture that I read and reread.             
  Cowley also points out that, in each story, Anderson aims 
for " that single moment of aliveness--that epiphany, as    
Joyce would have called it, that suddenly reached out of    
two characters through walls of inarticulateness and        
misunderstanding...."  You can almost highlight it in each  
one.                                                        
  I would love to know if this is one of the first of the   
groups of short stories which rotate around a single theme  
and characters.  Munro does this with whole books           
sometimes, as in THE BEGGAR MAID, or in just a few of her   
stories within a book.  Cowley points to authors after      
Anderson such as Faulkner's THE UNVANQUISHED and GO DOWN,   
MOSES, Steinbeck's TORTILLA FLAT and THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN 
and Caldwell's GEORGIA BOY.  But, he doesn't specifically   
say that Anderson was the first to do it.  Any thoughts on  
that?                                        Barbara        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     7:12 PM

Conductor: Intriguing idea, I think, that the people in     
WINESBURG, OHIO represent facets of personality that can    
divide and isolate us from one another if taken to extremes.
  It's certainly to the author's credit that they remain    
characters and not caricatures, as they could so easily have
become. I'm sure this is due in no small part, as you say,  
to Anderson's deceptively simple style.                     
  I first discovered his writing when I came across the     
opening story, "Hands," in an anthology many moons ago. It's
probably still my favorite of the lot, and seemingly the    
most anthologized.                                          
  So I'll pose the obvious question: Do you think Wing      
Biddlebaum is homosexual and/or pedophilic, or rather a     
misunderstood person who was exiled from the community      
because his tendency toward physical affection sometimes got
out of hand, so to speak?                                   
  On a similar note, an English prof I know who is somewhat 
of an expert on Walt Whitman maintains that many of the     
supposed homo-erotic aspects of Whitman's writing are       
frequently taken out of context nowadays. Rather, this prof 
says, Whitman was someone who "loved human beings,          
spiritually and indiscriminately, and had a habit of        
speaking injudiciously."                                    
  In any event, no matter how many times I read Anderson's  
"Hands," the beautiful last line always stabs me through the
heart: "...the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through 
decade after decade of his rosary."                         
  So...Where do you think ol' Wing lieth, on this sexual    
continuum?                                                  
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            
  (PS: I seemed to recall that WINESBURG was a favorite book
of Tom Canavan, formerly a frequent voice here, and I sent  
him a notice by land-mail earlier this week about this      
discussion. Hopefully he'll join us at some point, before we
hold onto our hats and take the rollercoaster ride into the 
brilliant nightmare of BLOOD MERIDIAN.)                     
                                                            
                                                            


===============   Reply    4 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/22
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:14 PM

I have read a lot of things that make me think 19th and     
possibly early 20th century writings are sometimes          
misunderstood to be homoerotic when they are not.  The      
biggest recent blowup about this occurred when that writer  
on gays in the military published a book intimating, among  
other things, that Confederate General Pat Cleburne was gay.
 This started a firestorm.  Yes, Cleburne was quite fond of 
a young subordinate and shared his blankets with him, but   
this form of sleeping together was extremely common during  
the war for purely practical reasons.  Also, it's hard to   
imagine anyone, even a popular general, getting by with this
in field conditions.  The men were too much thrown together 
not to notice, and if you think homophobia's bad NOW -      
  The problem also arises in respect to women's writings.   
Many female letters, diaries, etc. contain endearments we   
would now consider wildly lesbian; in fact, such letters    
have caused the suspicion to be leveled against Eleanor     
Roosevelt.  What's actually reflected here is that from the 
early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries the worlds
of the sexes were extremely segregated.  The same phenomenon
appears in the letters of Queen Anne, who seemed to have    
quite a thing for Sarah Churchill.                          
                                   Cathy                    


===============   Reply    5 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Time:     8:51 AM

Dale, I did not think Wing was homosexual at all. In fact,  
I think the story doesn't work if he is. The point of the   
reaction of the townspeople to his manner is that they      
misunderstand it totally. Like most of the characters in    
WINESBURG,(at least those I've encountered, I'm only        
halfway through)Wing is terribly isolated and desperate for 
some means of reaching other human beings. He identifies    
with the boys he cant't resist touching, and the touching   
is a physical manisfestation of his feeling for them. And   
that feeling is for their lives, not their bodies.          
                                                            
Here is a passage which sums up Wing for me:                
   In a way the voice and the hands, the stroking of        
   the shoulders and the touching of the hair were a        
   part of the schoolmaster's effort to carry a dream       
   into the young minds. By the caress that was in his      
   fingers he expressed himself.                            
                                                            
The fury which breaks over Wing is solely the product of    
the narrowness and frustration of the lives of his          
tormentors.                                                 
                                                            
Pontifically from the heights,                              
Felix Miller                                                


===============   Reply    6 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    07/23
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:    11:22 AM

Interesting comments, Cathy. I was reminded of the          
relationship between the fictional characters Sue and       
Augusta in Wallace Stegner's ANGLE OF REPOSE, which if I    
remember correctly you also read recently. Viewed strictly  
from a 20th century perspective , there are strong hints in 
their correspondance of an erotic attraction between the two
women, but I think that it is unfair to superimpose current 
hang-ups on characters from an earlier time, when people of 
the same sex had more leway in expressing love and affection
for each other without anyone assuming they wanted to have a
physical relationship. Of course, as  you so rightly pointed
out, this becomes so much messier when it is applied to real
people. Poor Eleanor Roosevelt  -- to have your private life
and letters dissected so mercilessly, with the conclusion   
reached that you were at least a "latent" homosexual        
-whatever that means. Somehow it seems unfair to pry so much
into the personal and sexual life of the dead.              
                                                            
Ann                                                         


===============   Reply    7 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    12:31 PM

Dale: It seems to me that Wing's sexuality is intentionally 
ambiguous, and that for Anderson's purpose that is precisely
the point. Gay, he's isolated and driven from the community;
warm, sensitive and touchy-feely hetero, he's isolated and  
driven from the community. Neither deviation from the norm  
will be tolerated. I vaguely recall reading that some birds 
-- chickens, perhaps? -- will cull the flock of birds that  
don't match the majority color scheme, with the white birds 
pecking the speckled to death. Poor speckled Wing.          
                                                            
          Dick in Alaska, where he carefully plucks any     
          speckled feathers each morning before dressing    


===============   Reply    8 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Date:    07/23
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:06 PM

I agree with you, Felix, re: Wing.  One of Anderson's       
central themes in Winesburg is the incredible lack of       
understanding that the people of the town have for each     
other.  Wing's somewhat eccentric personality would be      
outside their comprehension anyway, but with the addition   
of his physical nature and one adolescent's imagination, it 
was like walking on the edge of a cliff.                    
  BTW it's interesting, given the questions being debated   
today regarding whether children are capable of lying       
(however unintentionally) about sexual abuse, that this     
story is surprisingly timely.                 Barbara       
  And, didn't you just want to liberate poor Wing from this 
town?                                           Barbara     


===============   Reply    1 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/24
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    10:28 PM

Dear CR Friends,                                            
I agree with all of you about the theme of loneliness in    
WINESBURG, OHIO.  Even George Willard, who is in nearly     
every chapter, seems to hang out on the periphery of life.  
For example, he thinks he might love Helen White and asks   
Seth Richmond to tell her for him instead of doing it him-  
self.  He also yearns for Kate Swift but does not act on    
his feelings.  I have not finished yet, but that is what I  
think up to this point.                                     
                                                            
Has anyone else noticed the stylistic quirk that Anderson   
has of turning the sentence structure around?  He often be- 
gins with a prepositional phrase:                           
        With the traveling men when she walked about with   
        them, and later with Tom Willard, it was quite dif- 
        ferent.                                             
and                                                         
        By the window he sat down to think.                 
                                                            
I, too, love the descriptions in "Hands".  Wing's problem   
with his hands reminds me of life as a public school        
teacher these days.  One hears of teachers being sued be-   
cause they touched a student who did not want to be touched 
A friend of mine who is gay "came out of the closet" (in a  
fit of madness, I think).  He will never be able to touch   
a boy in his classes again.  Middle class high school boys  
are extremely homophobic.                                   
                                                            
Thanks for all of the insight on this fine novel.           
Jane who will soon be back teaching (Aug. 10)!              


===============   Reply    2 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    07/24
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    11:19 PM

Dear Winesburg readers,                                     
I thought I had read Winesburg years ago.  Turns out I was  
mixing it up with Spoon River Anthology.                    
(Now Ill have to go back and read that one again.)  At first
I was put off by the fact that the Anderson                 
does an awful lot of TALKING about how his characters felt, 
rather than SHOWING us how they felt.  I                    
guess thats his left foot, still in the 19th century.  His  
simple, clear non-turgid prose is his right foot in         
the 20th century.   At first, because emotions were         
described more than felt, I had a hard time getting into    
this book.  I actually threw it down a couple of times      
intending to bail out.  However, something kept calling me  
back into the book and I kept picking it up again until I   
finished it.  I think what keeps it contemporary is         
its explication of alienation and loneliness, themes several
of you have noted.  I am reminded of Thoreau's              
observation that The mass of men lead lives of quiet        
desperation.                                                
Ruth                                                        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/25
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     0:54 AM

   On looking at "Hands" again, Dale, I also don't find any 
clue that Wing is homosexual, unconscious or otherwise.     
Not only do I not see it there on the page, but it seems to 
me that if Anderson wanted to give that impression, then    
he'd do so in a way that would leave no doubt in the read-  
er's mind. This author doesn't go hinting around about his  
characters, he tells you about them straight out.           
    There were places that this direct approach becomes     
pretty baldly didactic; I can't find them at the moment,    
but there are a couple of small digressions about the       
effect of industrialism on the country that struck me as    
rather odd to come across in a work of fiction. They may    
serve, though, to heighten the impression that this is a    
*real* place, and real people that Anderson is describing.  
   I must say that I like this book more as I reread        
parts from here and there; the goes-down-easy style lends   
itself to close study far more readily, for my taste, than  
some other books that I'll refrain from mentioning. No      
small achievement, I think, to use common words in simply   
constructed sentences to create a totality that was in a    
number of ways unlike any work that preceded it.            
                                                            
                         Allen                              
                                                            
  Irrelevant personal postscript: I had a unique distract-  
                                                            
ion that prevented me from getting into the flow of the     
book as readily as I otherwise would have -- the name of    
the young reporter, George Willard, is the same as someone  
I once knew who sadly, many years ago, committed suicide.   


===============   Reply    4 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/25
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     5:41 PM

     I just finished WINESBURG and the impression I have of 
it is...wispy.  There seems to be some urgent melancholia   
throughout.  Each character is slightly built; each chapter 
a snapshot.  The mood created by these stories reminded me  
of the kind of adolescent angst I went through as a young   
girl on a farm in North Carolina.  The coming-of-age within 
the stories mirrors the literary coming of age that W,O     
actually turned out to be.  It really is hard to judge this 
work in hindsight.  It would have been nice to read it when 
it was first published and have been amazed at its          
originality.  Of course, we can't do that.  I found myself, 
especially in the beginning, wanting to know more about the 
people.  I'd get interested in them and then the next story 
started and I would have to get acquainted with a whole new 
person.                                                     
     Many of you have talked about HANDS.  I agree that this
story is highly effective and amazingly relevant to our     
time.  Wing Biddlebaum seems to me to be the most fully     
realized character in the book, even more than George (who  
to me seemed like an interesting device to tie all the      
stories together, but I don't feel like I really know him.) 
His "problem" with his hands just goes to show that some    
things never change.  No matter how much we think we are in 
a new and improved world we read something like HANDS and   
realize that many attitudes are the same.                   
                                                            
Sherry                                                      


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/29
From:   FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Time:     3:20 AM

Dale Short                                                  
                                                            
I see Wing Biddelbaum as a tragic character, who doesn't    
know what his leanings really are.  I visuaize him as one   
of those touchy-feelie people, who reward their charges     
with a touch.  As Adolph Myers this is the way he ran his   
classroom empire.  It is only when he turns his head and    
sees the knotted rope of the Pennsylvanians that he begins  
to doubt see his attentions in another light.               
                                                            
He is horrified when he is trying to teach George Willard   
and he reverts to his old ways.  The author uses the word   
caress, incidentally.  Wing is afraid of confronting        
his own inner being, afraid of what he might see.           
Wing does not step into the closet, therefor he can never   
come out of the closet.  No matter what job he has, his     
hands eventually give him away.                             
regards,Edd Houghton, who just saw "Joseph and his          
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and ponders on               
historical veracity of Andrew Lloyd Weber.  Could he help   
Disney with Pocohantas?                                     


===============   Reply    2 of Note    1 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Date:    07/29
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:08 PM

Andrew Lloyd Weber is the musical equivalent of the BRIDGES 
OF MADISON COUNTY guy, whoever that is.  Don't expect much  
of him.                                                     
  Re Wing Biddlebaum, what struck me most on reading the    
story was that none of his accusers explicitly stated what  
they thought he had done or why his actions disturbed them. 
That certainly wouldn't happen today.  As for in or out of  
the closet, I get the opinion that part of the horror is    
that he himself doesn't get it, at least on a conscious     
level.  It's possible to have the tendency, you know,       
without ever realizing precisely what it is, at least it was
in the buttoned up world of the last part of the last       
century and the first part of this one.  All he knows is    
that people think there's something unspeakable about his   
hands and he doesn't feel too comfortable about them        
himself.  He may not have even known precisely how to commit
the act or any other of an intimate nature.  I belive       
several male writers have written tragicomedies about their 
lack of sexual instruction and the difficulties into which  
it led them.                                                
                                  Cathy                     


===============   Note     2              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   


===============   Note     5              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:                ALL                   Date:    07/13
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:21 PM

For CRs who are reading Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG,      
OHIO, I have an old Viking Press Portable Library edition   
which has an excellent forward by Malcolm Cowley.  It's 15  
pages long and, therefore, probably not something I can     
transcribe here, but would be more than willing to send you 
a xeroxed copy by snail mail (sorry, Thom) if you're        
interested.  It's certainly contributed to my understanding 
of what's going on here, how Anderson fits into literary    
history and some interesting things about him as a person.  
  I'm only part-way through the "Godliness" section, but    
found Anderson's description of Jesse Bentley, his father   
and his brothers to be an insightful view of those men      
who seemed to have no choice but to work from dawn to dusk  
in order to make a living from the land and lose themselves 
along the way.  And Jesse letting his delicate wife work    
herself to death rang true as well.            Barbara      
                                (in Michigan...where I felt 
                                 close to heat stroke after 
                                 working in the yard all    
                                 morning...we're into some  
                                 serious summer now....)    


===============   Reply    1 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/22
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     4:03 PM

   I finished WINESBURG, OHIO last night, a little behind   
schedule as usual, and have without much success been       
trying to put my thoughts about it in order. So I'll just   
ramble on a while, detailing my reactions more or less at   
random.                                                     
   I haven't quite been able to categorize the narrative    
form that Anderson is using here. It seems to be closer to  
a novel than a collection of stories; the only thing lack-  
ing to place it firmly in the former is a clear plotline    
that involves all the characters. Both the common frame-    
work of the setting and the character of George Willard,    
whose story is told bit by bit as the book progresses,      
serve to create a cohesive whole instead of a collection    
of parts. So I suspect that those who prefer novels to      
short stories would find W,O a satisfying read.             
   Anderson makes it perfectly clear what he's up to here,  
even speaking in the book's dedication of his "hunger to    
see beneath the surface of lives." This he most ably does,  
with a series of higly distilled portraits of characters    
he calls "grotesques." I must admit that I saw certain      
aspects of myself in a number of them, who are only gro-    
tesque in that they are extreme embodiments of partic-      
ular dimensions of human existence. What struck me as       
most poignant about them is their isolation from one        
another; these people rarely even try to communicate with   
one another, amd when they do, their attempts are halting,  
confused and ultimately unsuccessful.                       
   None of the people in W,O either understand or are       
understood by their neighbors, but there are at least a     
couple of them who nonetheless I don't see as sad figures.  
One is Joe Welling, of "A Man of Ideas," who to some        
extent lives in a world of his own, and is certainly seen   
by the townspeople as quite peculiar -- but there's no      
hint that this bothers him in the least. To me this chapter 
came as a welcome break from the somber tone of those       
preceding. The other exception is Tom Foster of "Drink",    
who has seen more of the evils of life than any of the      
others but remains peculiarly uncorrupted by his exper-     
iences. I found his story one of the most compelling        
vignettes in the series.                                    
    One might describe Anderson's writing as "deceptively   
simple." The way he uses the sparest English to build       
up a vivid picture of the "secret life" of Winesburg        
exemplifies what George Orwell held to be a prime           
requisite of good prose; that it be like "a pane of glass." 
Only afterwards, and after some close study, does one       
realize the way in which he uses simple words in simple     
sentences to construct a complex mirror of reality. To me,  
the outstanding hallmark of genius, of any sort, is to make 
that which is difficult look easy, and Anderson's strik-    
ingly economical prose is an obvious example.               
    I gather from what bit of reading on the subject I've   
done that WINESBURG, OHIO is considered a landmark in       
American literature because of Anderson's writing style and 
subject matter. As such, it made a fine entry on our        
reading list and I'd like to thank Gail Friel for nominating
it. (Where are you, Gail? Come talk to us, please!)         
                                                            
   Next up: BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy               
                                               <<Allen>>    


===============   Reply    2 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     5:53 PM

According to Malcolm Cowley's introduction in my edition,   
he wrote this series of stories fairly quickly, but with a  
delay of some months before the last three stories,         
"Death", "Sophistication" and "Departure" were written,     
"with the obvious intention of rounding out the book."      
  After reading that, I sort of expected those stories to   
be hurriedly tacked on without as much art as the ones      
before.  Instead, I found "Death" remarkably moving and     
probably the one that stays with me most, of all of them.   
And, the two opening paragraphs of "Sophistication"         
describing a small American town when the fair comes to     
town are my favorites in the book:                          
***                                                         
   "It was early evening of a day in the late fall and the  
Winesburg County Fair had brought crowds of country people  
into town.  The day had been clear and the night came on    
warm and pleasant.  On the Trunion Pike, where the road     
after it left town stretched away between berry fields now  
covered with dry brown leaves, the dust from passing wagons 
arose in clouds.  Children, curled into little balls, slept 
on the straw scattered on wagon beds.  Their hair was full  
of dust and their fingers black and sticky.  The dust       
rolled away over the fields and the departing sun set it    
ablaze with colors.                                         
  In the main street of Winesburg, crowds filled the stores 
and the sidewalks.  Night came on, horses whinnied, the     
clerks in the stores ran madly about, children became lost  
and cried lustily, an American town worked terribly at the  
task of amusing itself."                                    
***                                                         
  Maybe it's because I lived that scene in a later time,    
but he paints a picture that I read and reread.             
  Cowley also points out that, in each story, Anderson aims 
for " that single moment of aliveness--that epiphany, as    
Joyce would have called it, that suddenly reached out of    
two characters through walls of inarticulateness and        
misunderstanding...."  You can almost highlight it in each  
one.                                                        
  I would love to know if this is one of the first of the   
groups of short stories which rotate around a single theme  
and characters.  Munro does this with whole books           
sometimes, as in THE BEGGAR MAID, or in just a few of her   
stories within a book.  Cowley points to authors after      
Anderson such as Faulkner's THE UNVANQUISHED and GO DOWN,   
MOSES, Steinbeck's TORTILLA FLAT and THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN 
and Caldwell's GEORGIA BOY.  But, he doesn't specifically   
say that Anderson was the first to do it.  Any thoughts on  
that?                                        Barbara        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     7:12 PM

Conductor: Intriguing idea, I think, that the people in     
WINESBURG, OHIO represent facets of personality that can    
divide and isolate us from one another if taken to extremes.
  It's certainly to the author's credit that they remain    
characters and not caricatures, as they could so easily have
become. I'm sure this is due in no small part, as you say,  
to Anderson's deceptively simple style.                     
  I first discovered his writing when I came across the     
opening story, "Hands," in an anthology many moons ago. It's
probably still my favorite of the lot, and seemingly the    
most anthologized.                                          
  So I'll pose the obvious question: Do you think Wing      
Biddlebaum is homosexual and/or pedophilic, or rather a     
misunderstood person who was exiled from the community      
because his tendency toward physical affection sometimes got
out of hand, so to speak?                                   
  On a similar note, an English prof I know who is somewhat 
of an expert on Walt Whitman maintains that many of the     
supposed homo-erotic aspects of Whitman's writing are       
frequently taken out of context nowadays. Rather, this prof 
says, Whitman was someone who "loved human beings,          
spiritually and indiscriminately, and had a habit of        
speaking injudiciously."                                    
  In any event, no matter how many times I read Anderson's  
"Hands," the beautiful last line always stabs me through the
heart: "...the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through 
decade after decade of his rosary."                         
  So...Where do you think ol' Wing lieth, on this sexual    
continuum?                                                  
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            
  (PS: I seemed to recall that WINESBURG was a favorite book
of Tom Canavan, formerly a frequent voice here, and I sent  
him a notice by land-mail earlier this week about this      
discussion. Hopefully he'll join us at some point, before we
hold onto our hats and take the rollercoaster ride into the 
brilliant nightmare of BLOOD MERIDIAN.)                     
                                                            
                                                            


===============   Reply    4 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/22
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:14 PM

I have read a lot of things that make me think 19th and     
possibly early 20th century writings are sometimes          
misunderstood to be homoerotic when they are not.  The      
biggest recent blowup about this occurred when that writer  
on gays in the military published a book intimating, among  
other things, that Confederate General Pat Cleburne was gay.
 This started a firestorm.  Yes, Cleburne was quite fond of 
a young subordinate and shared his blankets with him, but   
this form of sleeping together was extremely common during  
the war for purely practical reasons.  Also, it's hard to   
imagine anyone, even a popular general, getting by with this
in field conditions.  The men were too much thrown together 
not to notice, and if you think homophobia's bad NOW -      
  The problem also arises in respect to women's writings.   
Many female letters, diaries, etc. contain endearments we   
would now consider wildly lesbian; in fact, such letters    
have caused the suspicion to be leveled against Eleanor     
Roosevelt.  What's actually reflected here is that from the 
early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries the worlds
of the sexes were extremely segregated.  The same phenomenon
appears in the letters of Queen Anne, who seemed to have    
quite a thing for Sarah Churchill.                          
                                   Cathy                    


===============   Reply    5 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Time:     8:51 AM

Dale, I did not think Wing was homosexual at all. In fact,  
I think the story doesn't work if he is. The point of the   
reaction of the townspeople to his manner is that they      
misunderstand it totally. Like most of the characters in    
WINESBURG,(at least those I've encountered, I'm only        
halfway through)Wing is terribly isolated and desperate for 
some means of reaching other human beings. He identifies    
with the boys he cant't resist touching, and the touching   
is a physical manisfestation of his feeling for them. And   
that feeling is for their lives, not their bodies.          
                                                            
Here is a passage which sums up Wing for me:                
   In a way the voice and the hands, the stroking of        
   the shoulders and the touching of the hair were a        
   part of the schoolmaster's effort to carry a dream       
   into the young minds. By the caress that was in his      
   fingers he expressed himself.                            
                                                            
The fury which breaks over Wing is solely the product of    
the narrowness and frustration of the lives of his          
tormentors.                                                 
                                                            
Pontifically from the heights,                              
Felix Miller                                                


===============   Reply    6 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    07/23
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:    11:22 AM

Interesting comments, Cathy. I was reminded of the          
relationship between the fictional characters Sue and       
Augusta in Wallace Stegner's ANGLE OF REPOSE, which if I    
remember correctly you also read recently. Viewed strictly  
from a 20th century perspective , there are strong hints in 
their correspondance of an erotic attraction between the two
women, but I think that it is unfair to superimpose current 
hang-ups on characters from an earlier time, when people of 
the same sex had more leway in expressing love and affection
for each other without anyone assuming they wanted to have a
physical relationship. Of course, as  you so rightly pointed
out, this becomes so much messier when it is applied to real
people. Poor Eleanor Roosevelt  -- to have your private life
and letters dissected so mercilessly, with the conclusion   
reached that you were at least a "latent" homosexual        
-whatever that means. Somehow it seems unfair to pry so much
into the personal and sexual life of the dead.              
                                                            
Ann                                                         


===============   Reply    7 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    12:31 PM

Dale: It seems to me that Wing's sexuality is intentionally 
ambiguous, and that for Anderson's purpose that is precisely
the point. Gay, he's isolated and driven from the community;
warm, sensitive and touchy-feely hetero, he's isolated and  
driven from the community. Neither deviation from the norm  
will be tolerated. I vaguely recall reading that some birds 
-- chickens, perhaps? -- will cull the flock of birds that  
don't match the majority color scheme, with the white birds 
pecking the speckled to death. Poor speckled Wing.          
                                                            
          Dick in Alaska, where he carefully plucks any     
          speckled feathers each morning before dressing    


===============   Reply    8 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Date:    07/23
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:06 PM

I agree with you, Felix, re: Wing.  One of Anderson's       
central themes in Winesburg is the incredible lack of       
understanding that the people of the town have for each     
other.  Wing's somewhat eccentric personality would be      
outside their comprehension anyway, but with the addition   
of his physical nature and one adolescent's imagination, it 
was like walking on the edge of a cliff.                    
  BTW it's interesting, given the questions being debated   
today regarding whether children are capable of lying       
(however unintentionally) about sexual abuse, that this     
story is surprisingly timely.                 Barbara       
  And, didn't you just want to liberate poor Wing from this 
town?                                           Barbara     


===============   Reply    1 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/24
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    10:28 PM

Dear CR Friends,                                            
I agree with all of you about the theme of loneliness in    
WINESBURG, OHIO.  Even George Willard, who is in nearly     
every chapter, seems to hang out on the periphery of life.  
For example, he thinks he might love Helen White and asks   
Seth Richmond to tell her for him instead of doing it him-  
self.  He also yearns for Kate Swift but does not act on    
his feelings.  I have not finished yet, but that is what I  
think up to this point.                                     
                                                            
Has anyone else noticed the stylistic quirk that Anderson   
has of turning the sentence structure around?  He often be- 
gins with a prepositional phrase:                           
        With the traveling men when she walked about with   
        them, and later with Tom Willard, it was quite dif- 
        ferent.                                             
and                                                         
        By the window he sat down to think.                 
                                                            
I, too, love the descriptions in "Hands".  Wing's problem   
with his hands reminds me of life as a public school        
teacher these days.  One hears of teachers being sued be-   
cause they touched a student who did not want to be touched 
A friend of mine who is gay "came out of the closet" (in a  
fit of madness, I think).  He will never be able to touch   
a boy in his classes again.  Middle class high school boys  
are extremely homophobic.                                   
                                                            
Thanks for all of the insight on this fine novel.           
Jane who will soon be back teaching (Aug. 10)!              


===============   Reply    2 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    07/24
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    11:19 PM

Dear Winesburg readers,                                     
I thought I had read Winesburg years ago.  Turns out I was  
mixing it up with Spoon River Anthology.                    
(Now Ill have to go back and read that one again.)  At first
I was put off by the fact that the Anderson                 
does an awful lot of TALKING about how his characters felt, 
rather than SHOWING us how they felt.  I                    
guess thats his left foot, still in the 19th century.  His  
simple, clear non-turgid prose is his right foot in         
the 20th century.   At first, because emotions were         
described more than felt, I had a hard time getting into    
this book.  I actually threw it down a couple of times      
intending to bail out.  However, something kept calling me  
back into the book and I kept picking it up again until I   
finished it.  I think what keeps it contemporary is         
its explication of alienation and loneliness, themes several
of you have noted.  I am reminded of Thoreau's              
observation that The mass of men lead lives of quiet        
desperation.                                                
Ruth                                                        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/25
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     0:54 AM

   On looking at "Hands" again, Dale, I also don't find any 
clue that Wing is homosexual, unconscious or otherwise.     
Not only do I not see it there on the page, but it seems to 
me that if Anderson wanted to give that impression, then    
he'd do so in a way that would leave no doubt in the read-  
er's mind. This author doesn't go hinting around about his  
characters, he tells you about them straight out.           
    There were places that this direct approach becomes     
pretty baldly didactic; I can't find them at the moment,    
but there are a couple of small digressions about the       
effect of industrialism on the country that struck me as    
rather odd to come across in a work of fiction. They may    
serve, though, to heighten the impression that this is a    
*real* place, and real people that Anderson is describing.  
   I must say that I like this book more as I reread        
parts from here and there; the goes-down-easy style lends   
itself to close study far more readily, for my taste, than  
some other books that I'll refrain from mentioning. No      
small achievement, I think, to use common words in simply   
constructed sentences to create a totality that was in a    
number of ways unlike any work that preceded it.            
                                                            
                         Allen                              
                                                            
  Irrelevant personal postscript: I had a unique distract-  
                                                            
ion that prevented me from getting into the flow of the     
book as readily as I otherwise would have -- the name of    
the young reporter, George Willard, is the same as someone  
I once knew who sadly, many years ago, committed suicide.   


===============   Reply    4 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/25
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     5:41 PM

     I just finished WINESBURG and the impression I have of 
it is...wispy.  There seems to be some urgent melancholia   
throughout.  Each character is slightly built; each chapter 
a snapshot.  The mood created by these stories reminded me  
of the kind of adolescent angst I went through as a young   
girl on a farm in North Carolina.  The coming-of-age within 
the stories mirrors the literary coming of age that W,O     
actually turned out to be.  It really is hard to judge this 
work in hindsight.  It would have been nice to read it when 
it was first published and have been amazed at its          
originality.  Of course, we can't do that.  I found myself, 
especially in the beginning, wanting to know more about the 
people.  I'd get interested in them and then the next story 
started and I would have to get acquainted with a whole new 
person.                                                     
     Many of you have talked about HANDS.  I agree that this
story is highly effective and amazingly relevant to our     
time.  Wing Biddlebaum seems to me to be the most fully     
realized character in the book, even more than George (who  
to me seemed like an interesting device to tie all the      
stories together, but I don't feel like I really know him.) 
His "problem" with his hands just goes to show that some    
things never change.  No matter how much we think we are in 
a new and improved world we read something like HANDS and   
realize that many attitudes are the same.                   
                                                            
Sherry                                                      


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/29
From:   FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Time:     3:20 AM

Dale Short                                                  
                                                            
I see Wing Biddelbaum as a tragic character, who doesn't    
know what his leanings really are.  I visuaize him as one   
of those touchy-feelie people, who reward their charges     
with a touch.  As Adolph Myers this is the way he ran his   
classroom empire.  It is only when he turns his head and    
sees the knotted rope of the Pennsylvanians that he begins  
to doubt see his attentions in another light.               
                                                            
He is horrified when he is trying to teach George Willard   
and he reverts to his old ways.  The author uses the word   
caress, incidentally.  Wing is afraid of confronting        
his own inner being, afraid of what he might see.           
Wing does not step into the closet, therefor he can never   
come out of the closet.  No matter what job he has, his     
hands eventually give him away.                             
regards,Edd Houghton, who just saw "Joseph and his          
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and ponders on               
historical veracity of Andrew Lloyd Weber.  Could he help   
Disney with Pocohantas?                                     


===============   Reply    2 of Note    1 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Date:    07/29
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:08 PM

Andrew Lloyd Weber is the musical equivalent of the BRIDGES 
OF MADISON COUNTY guy, whoever that is.  Don't expect much  
of him.                                                     
  Re Wing Biddlebaum, what struck me most on reading the    
story was that none of his accusers explicitly stated what  
they thought he had done or why his actions disturbed them. 
That certainly wouldn't happen today.  As for in or out of  
the closet, I get the opinion that part of the horror is    
that he himself doesn't get it, at least on a conscious     
level.  It's possible to have the tendency, you know,       
without ever realizing precisely what it is, at least it was
in the buttoned up world of the last part of the last       
century and the first part of this one.  All he knows is    
that people think there's something unspeakable about his   
hands and he doesn't feel too comfortable about them        
himself.  He may not have even known precisely how to commit
the act or any other of an intimate nature.  I belive       
several male writers have written tragicomedies about their 
lack of sexual instruction and the difficulties into which  
it led them.                                                
                                  Cathy                     


===============   Note     2              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   

===============   Note     5              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:                ALL                   Date:    07/13
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:21 PM

For CRs who are reading Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG,      
OHIO, I have an old Viking Press Portable Library edition   
which has an excellent forward by Malcolm Cowley.  It's 15  
pages long and, therefore, probably not something I can     
transcribe here, but would be more than willing to send you 
a xeroxed copy by snail mail (sorry, Thom) if you're        
interested.  It's certainly contributed to my understanding 
of what's going on here, how Anderson fits into literary    
history and some interesting things about him as a person.  
  I'm only part-way through the "Godliness" section, but    
found Anderson's description of Jesse Bentley, his father   
and his brothers to be an insightful view of those men      
who seemed to have no choice but to work from dawn to dusk  
in order to make a living from the land and lose themselves 
along the way.  And Jesse letting his delicate wife work    
herself to death rang true as well.            Barbara      
                                (in Michigan...where I felt 
                                 close to heat stroke after 
                                 working in the yard all    
                                 morning...we're into some  
                                 serious summer now....)    


===============   Reply    1 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/22
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     4:03 PM

   I finished WINESBURG, OHIO last night, a little behind   
schedule as usual, and have without much success been       
trying to put my thoughts about it in order. So I'll just   
ramble on a while, detailing my reactions more or less at   
random.                                                     
   I haven't quite been able to categorize the narrative    
form that Anderson is using here. It seems to be closer to  
a novel than a collection of stories; the only thing lack-  
ing to place it firmly in the former is a clear plotline    
that involves all the characters. Both the common frame-    
work of the setting and the character of George Willard,    
whose story is told bit by bit as the book progresses,      
serve to create a cohesive whole instead of a collection    
of parts. So I suspect that those who prefer novels to      
short stories would find W,O a satisfying read.             
   Anderson makes it perfectly clear what he's up to here,  
even speaking in the book's dedication of his "hunger to    
see beneath the surface of lives." This he most ably does,  
with a series of higly distilled portraits of characters    
he calls "grotesques." I must admit that I saw certain      
aspects of myself in a number of them, who are only gro-    
tesque in that they are extreme embodiments of partic-      
ular dimensions of human existence. What struck me as       
most poignant about them is their isolation from one        
another; these people rarely even try to communicate with   
one another, amd when they do, their attempts are halting,  
confused and ultimately unsuccessful.                       
   None of the people in W,O either understand or are       
understood by their neighbors, but there are at least a     
couple of them who nonetheless I don't see as sad figures.  
One is Joe Welling, of "A Man of Ideas," who to some        
extent lives in a world of his own, and is certainly seen   
by the townspeople as quite peculiar -- but there's no      
hint that this bothers him in the least. To me this chapter 
came as a welcome break from the somber tone of those       
preceding. The other exception is Tom Foster of "Drink",    
who has seen more of the evils of life than any of the      
others but remains peculiarly uncorrupted by his exper-     
iences. I found his story one of the most compelling        
vignettes in the series.                                    
    One might describe Anderson's writing as "deceptively   
simple." The way he uses the sparest English to build       
up a vivid picture of the "secret life" of Winesburg        
exemplifies what George Orwell held to be a prime           
requisite of good prose; that it be like "a pane of glass." 
Only afterwards, and after some close study, does one       
realize the way in which he uses simple words in simple     
sentences to construct a complex mirror of reality. To me,  
the outstanding hallmark of genius, of any sort, is to make 
that which is difficult look easy, and Anderson's strik-    
ingly economical prose is an obvious example.               
    I gather from what bit of reading on the subject I've   
done that WINESBURG, OHIO is considered a landmark in       
American literature because of Anderson's writing style and 
subject matter. As such, it made a fine entry on our        
reading list and I'd like to thank Gail Friel for nominating
it. (Where are you, Gail? Come talk to us, please!)         
                                                            
   Next up: BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy               
                                               <<Allen>>    


===============   Reply    2 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     5:53 PM

According to Malcolm Cowley's introduction in my edition,   
he wrote this series of stories fairly quickly, but with a  
delay of some months before the last three stories,         
"Death", "Sophistication" and "Departure" were written,     
"with the obvious intention of rounding out the book."      
  After reading that, I sort of expected those stories to   
be hurriedly tacked on without as much art as the ones      
before.  Instead, I found "Death" remarkably moving and     
probably the one that stays with me most, of all of them.   
And, the two opening paragraphs of "Sophistication"         
describing a small American town when the fair comes to     
town are my favorites in the book:                          
***                                                         
   "It was early evening of a day in the late fall and the  
Winesburg County Fair had brought crowds of country people  
into town.  The day had been clear and the night came on    
warm and pleasant.  On the Trunion Pike, where the road     
after it left town stretched away between berry fields now  
covered with dry brown leaves, the dust from passing wagons 
arose in clouds.  Children, curled into little balls, slept 
on the straw scattered on wagon beds.  Their hair was full  
of dust and their fingers black and sticky.  The dust       
rolled away over the fields and the departing sun set it    
ablaze with colors.                                         
  In the main street of Winesburg, crowds filled the stores 
and the sidewalks.  Night came on, horses whinnied, the     
clerks in the stores ran madly about, children became lost  
and cried lustily, an American town worked terribly at the  
task of amusing itself."                                    
***                                                         
  Maybe it's because I lived that scene in a later time,    
but he paints a picture that I read and reread.             
  Cowley also points out that, in each story, Anderson aims 
for " that single moment of aliveness--that epiphany, as    
Joyce would have called it, that suddenly reached out of    
two characters through walls of inarticulateness and        
misunderstanding...."  You can almost highlight it in each  
one.                                                        
  I would love to know if this is one of the first of the   
groups of short stories which rotate around a single theme  
and characters.  Munro does this with whole books           
sometimes, as in THE BEGGAR MAID, or in just a few of her   
stories within a book.  Cowley points to authors after      
Anderson such as Faulkner's THE UNVANQUISHED and GO DOWN,   
MOSES, Steinbeck's TORTILLA FLAT and THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN 
and Caldwell's GEORGIA BOY.  But, he doesn't specifically   
say that Anderson was the first to do it.  Any thoughts on  
that?                                        Barbara        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/22
From:   MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Time:     7:12 PM

Conductor: Intriguing idea, I think, that the people in     
WINESBURG, OHIO represent facets of personality that can    
divide and isolate us from one another if taken to extremes.
  It's certainly to the author's credit that they remain    
characters and not caricatures, as they could so easily have
become. I'm sure this is due in no small part, as you say,  
to Anderson's deceptively simple style.                     
  I first discovered his writing when I came across the     
opening story, "Hands," in an anthology many moons ago. It's
probably still my favorite of the lot, and seemingly the    
most anthologized.                                          
  So I'll pose the obvious question: Do you think Wing      
Biddlebaum is homosexual and/or pedophilic, or rather a     
misunderstood person who was exiled from the community      
because his tendency toward physical affection sometimes got
out of hand, so to speak?                                   
  On a similar note, an English prof I know who is somewhat 
of an expert on Walt Whitman maintains that many of the     
supposed homo-erotic aspects of Whitman's writing are       
frequently taken out of context nowadays. Rather, this prof 
says, Whitman was someone who "loved human beings,          
spiritually and indiscriminately, and had a habit of        
speaking injudiciously."                                    
  In any event, no matter how many times I read Anderson's  
"Hands," the beautiful last line always stabs me through the
heart: "...the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through 
decade after decade of his rosary."                         
  So...Where do you think ol' Wing lieth, on this sexual    
continuum?                                                  
  >>Dale in Ala.                                            
  (PS: I seemed to recall that WINESBURG was a favorite book
of Tom Canavan, formerly a frequent voice here, and I sent  
him a notice by land-mail earlier this week about this      
discussion. Hopefully he'll join us at some point, before we
hold onto our hats and take the rollercoaster ride into the 
brilliant nightmare of BLOOD MERIDIAN.)                     
                                                            
                                                            


===============   Reply    4 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/22
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:14 PM

I have read a lot of things that make me think 19th and     
possibly early 20th century writings are sometimes          
misunderstood to be homoerotic when they are not.  The      
biggest recent blowup about this occurred when that writer  
on gays in the military published a book intimating, among  
other things, that Confederate General Pat Cleburne was gay.
 This started a firestorm.  Yes, Cleburne was quite fond of 
a young subordinate and shared his blankets with him, but   
this form of sleeping together was extremely common during  
the war for purely practical reasons.  Also, it's hard to   
imagine anyone, even a popular general, getting by with this
in field conditions.  The men were too much thrown together 
not to notice, and if you think homophobia's bad NOW -      
  The problem also arises in respect to women's writings.   
Many female letters, diaries, etc. contain endearments we   
would now consider wildly lesbian; in fact, such letters    
have caused the suspicion to be leveled against Eleanor     
Roosevelt.  What's actually reflected here is that from the 
early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries the worlds
of the sexes were extremely segregated.  The same phenomenon
appears in the letters of Queen Anne, who seemed to have    
quite a thing for Sarah Churchill.                          
                                   Cathy                    


===============   Reply    5 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Time:     8:51 AM

Dale, I did not think Wing was homosexual at all. In fact,  
I think the story doesn't work if he is. The point of the   
reaction of the townspeople to his manner is that they      
misunderstand it totally. Like most of the characters in    
WINESBURG,(at least those I've encountered, I'm only        
halfway through)Wing is terribly isolated and desperate for 
some means of reaching other human beings. He identifies    
with the boys he cant't resist touching, and the touching   
is a physical manisfestation of his feeling for them. And   
that feeling is for their lives, not their bodies.          
                                                            
Here is a passage which sums up Wing for me:                
   In a way the voice and the hands, the stroking of        
   the shoulders and the touching of the hair were a        
   part of the schoolmaster's effort to carry a dream       
   into the young minds. By the caress that was in his      
   fingers he expressed himself.                            
                                                            
The fury which breaks over Wing is solely the product of    
the narrowness and frustration of the lives of his          
tormentors.                                                 
                                                            
Pontifically from the heights,                              
Felix Miller                                                


===============   Reply    6 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Date:    07/23
From:   TQWX67A    ANN DAVEY             Time:    11:22 AM

Interesting comments, Cathy. I was reminded of the          
relationship between the fictional characters Sue and       
Augusta in Wallace Stegner's ANGLE OF REPOSE, which if I    
remember correctly you also read recently. Viewed strictly  
from a 20th century perspective , there are strong hints in 
their correspondance of an erotic attraction between the two
women, but I think that it is unfair to superimpose current 
hang-ups on characters from an earlier time, when people of 
the same sex had more leway in expressing love and affection
for each other without anyone assuming they wanted to have a
physical relationship. Of course, as  you so rightly pointed
out, this becomes so much messier when it is applied to real
people. Poor Eleanor Roosevelt  -- to have your private life
and letters dissected so mercilessly, with the conclusion   
reached that you were at least a "latent" homosexual        
-whatever that means. Somehow it seems unfair to pry so much
into the personal and sexual life of the dead.              
                                                            
Ann                                                         


===============   Reply    7 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/23
From:   ZRPD32A    RICHARD HAGGART       Time:    12:31 PM

Dale: It seems to me that Wing's sexuality is intentionally 
ambiguous, and that for Anderson's purpose that is precisely
the point. Gay, he's isolated and driven from the community;
warm, sensitive and touchy-feely hetero, he's isolated and  
driven from the community. Neither deviation from the norm  
will be tolerated. I vaguely recall reading that some birds 
-- chickens, perhaps? -- will cull the flock of birds that  
don't match the majority color scheme, with the white birds 
pecking the speckled to death. Poor speckled Wing.          
                                                            
          Dick in Alaska, where he carefully plucks any     
          speckled feathers each morning before dressing    


===============   Reply    8 of Note    5 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VMMN97A    FELIX MILLER          Date:    07/23
From:   NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Time:     2:06 PM

I agree with you, Felix, re: Wing.  One of Anderson's       
central themes in Winesburg is the incredible lack of       
understanding that the people of the town have for each     
other.  Wing's somewhat eccentric personality would be      
outside their comprehension anyway, but with the addition   
of his physical nature and one adolescent's imagination, it 
was like walking on the edge of a cliff.                    
  BTW it's interesting, given the questions being debated   
today regarding whether children are capable of lying       
(however unintentionally) about sexual abuse, that this     
story is surprisingly timely.                 Barbara       
  And, didn't you just want to liberate poor Wing from this 
town?                                           Barbara     


===============   Reply    1 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     NCSH82B    BARBARA MOORS         Date:    07/24
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    10:28 PM

Dear CR Friends,                                            
I agree with all of you about the theme of loneliness in    
WINESBURG, OHIO.  Even George Willard, who is in nearly     
every chapter, seems to hang out on the periphery of life.  
For example, he thinks he might love Helen White and asks   
Seth Richmond to tell her for him instead of doing it him-  
self.  He also yearns for Kate Swift but does not act on    
his feelings.  I have not finished yet, but that is what I  
think up to this point.                                     
                                                            
Has anyone else noticed the stylistic quirk that Anderson   
has of turning the sentence structure around?  He often be- 
gins with a prepositional phrase:                           
        With the traveling men when she walked about with   
        them, and later with Tom Willard, it was quite dif- 
        ferent.                                             
and                                                         
        By the window he sat down to think.                 
                                                            
I, too, love the descriptions in "Hands".  Wing's problem   
with his hands reminds me of life as a public school        
teacher these days.  One hears of teachers being sued be-   
cause they touched a student who did not want to be touched 
A friend of mine who is gay "came out of the closet" (in a  
fit of madness, I think).  He will never be able to touch   
a boy in his classes again.  Middle class high school boys  
are extremely homophobic.                                   
                                                            
Thanks for all of the insight on this fine novel.           
Jane who will soon be back teaching (Aug. 10)!              


===============   Reply    2 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Date:    07/24
From:   KDEX08B    RUTH BAVETTA          Time:    11:19 PM

Dear Winesburg readers,                                     
I thought I had read Winesburg years ago.  Turns out I was  
mixing it up with Spoon River Anthology.                    
(Now Ill have to go back and read that one again.)  At first
I was put off by the fact that the Anderson                 
does an awful lot of TALKING about how his characters felt, 
rather than SHOWING us how they felt.  I                    
guess thats his left foot, still in the 19th century.  His  
simple, clear non-turgid prose is his right foot in         
the 20th century.   At first, because emotions were         
described more than felt, I had a hard time getting into    
this book.  I actually threw it down a couple of times      
intending to bail out.  However, something kept calling me  
back into the book and I kept picking it up again until I   
finished it.  I think what keeps it contemporary is         
its explication of alienation and loneliness, themes several
of you have noted.  I am reminded of Thoreau's              
observation that The mass of men lead lives of quiet        
desperation.                                                
Ruth                                                        


===============   Reply    3 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/25
From:   VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Time:     0:54 AM

   On looking at "Hands" again, Dale, I also don't find any 
clue that Wing is homosexual, unconscious or otherwise.     
Not only do I not see it there on the page, but it seems to 
me that if Anderson wanted to give that impression, then    
he'd do so in a way that would leave no doubt in the read-  
er's mind. This author doesn't go hinting around about his  
characters, he tells you about them straight out.           
    There were places that this direct approach becomes     
pretty baldly didactic; I can't find them at the moment,    
but there are a couple of small digressions about the       
effect of industrialism on the country that struck me as    
rather odd to come across in a work of fiction. They may    
serve, though, to heighten the impression that this is a    
*real* place, and real people that Anderson is describing.  
   I must say that I like this book more as I reread        
parts from here and there; the goes-down-easy style lends   
itself to close study far more readily, for my taste, than  
some other books that I'll refrain from mentioning. No      
small achievement, I think, to use common words in simply   
constructed sentences to create a totality that was in a    
number of ways unlike any work that preceded it.            
                                                            
                         Allen                              
                                                            
  Irrelevant personal postscript: I had a unique distract-  
                                                            
ion that prevented me from getting into the flow of the     
book as readily as I otherwise would have -- the name of    
the young reporter, George Willard, is the same as someone  
I once knew who sadly, many years ago, committed suicide.   


===============   Reply    4 of Note    2 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     VRCH78A    ALLEN CROCKER         Date:    07/25
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     5:41 PM

     I just finished WINESBURG and the impression I have of 
it is...wispy.  There seems to be some urgent melancholia   
throughout.  Each character is slightly built; each chapter 
a snapshot.  The mood created by these stories reminded me  
of the kind of adolescent angst I went through as a young   
girl on a farm in North Carolina.  The coming-of-age within 
the stories mirrors the literary coming of age that W,O     
actually turned out to be.  It really is hard to judge this 
work in hindsight.  It would have been nice to read it when 
it was first published and have been amazed at its          
originality.  Of course, we can't do that.  I found myself, 
especially in the beginning, wanting to know more about the 
people.  I'd get interested in them and then the next story 
started and I would have to get acquainted with a whole new 
person.                                                     
     Many of you have talked about HANDS.  I agree that this
story is highly effective and amazingly relevant to our     
time.  Wing Biddlebaum seems to me to be the most fully     
realized character in the book, even more than George (who  
to me seemed like an interesting device to tie all the      
stories together, but I don't feel like I really know him.) 
His "problem" with his hands just goes to show that some    
things never change.  No matter how much we think we are in 
a new and improved world we read something like HANDS and   
realize that many attitudes are the same.                   
                                                            
Sherry                                                      


Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     MXDD10A    DALE SHORT            Date:    07/29
From:   FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Time:     3:20 AM

Dale Short                                                  
                                                            
I see Wing Biddelbaum as a tragic character, who doesn't    
know what his leanings really are.  I visuaize him as one   
of those touchy-feelie people, who reward their charges     
with a touch.  As Adolph Myers this is the way he ran his   
classroom empire.  It is only when he turns his head and    
sees the knotted rope of the Pennsylvanians that he begins  
to doubt see his attentions in another light.               
                                                            
He is horrified when he is trying to teach George Willard   
and he reverts to his old ways.  The author uses the word   
caress, incidentally.  Wing is afraid of confronting        
his own inner being, afraid of what he might see.           
Wing does not step into the closet, therefor he can never   
come out of the closet.  No matter what job he has, his     
hands eventually give him away.                             
regards,Edd Houghton, who just saw "Joseph and his          
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and ponders on               
historical veracity of Andrew Lloyd Weber.  Could he help   
Disney with Pocohantas?                                     


===============   Reply    2 of Note    1 =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING   
Topic:      BOOKS/FICTION       
Subject:    CONSTANT READER     

To:     FBED59A    EDWARD HOUGHTON       Date:    07/29
From:   YHJK89A    CATHERINE HILL        Time:    11:08 PM

Andrew Lloyd Weber is the musical equivalent of the BRIDGES 
OF MADISON COUNTY guy, whoever that is.  Don't expect much  
of him.                                                     
  Re Wing Biddlebaum, what struck me most on reading the    
story was that none of his accusers explicitly stated what  
they thought he had done or why his actions disturbed them. 
That certainly wouldn't happen today.  As for in or out of  
the closet, I get the opinion that part of the horror is    
that he himself doesn't get it, at least on a conscious     
level.  It's possible to have the tendency, you know,       
without ever realizing precisely what it is, at least it was
in the buttoned up world of the last part of the last       
century and the first part of this one.  All he knows is    
that people think there's something unspeakable about his   
hands and he doesn't feel too comfortable about them        
himself.  He may not have even known precisely how to commit
the act or any other of an intimate nature.  I belive       
several male writers have written tragicomedies about their 
lack of sexual instruction and the difficulties into which  
it led them.                                                
                                  Cathy                     


===============   Note     2              =================

Board:      BOOKS & WRITING